When I was a teenage girl, I was a Durrannee. My bedroom walls were lined with pictures of Duran Duran, in particular the lead singer, Simon LeBon, who wrote poetry like me. My mother used to say she could never sleep in my room with all of those men looking down at her. I was 11-years-old in 1981 when MTV was launched and was a full-fledged fan of both Duran Duran and MTV by 1983 when I was 13 and the videos for Hungry Like the Wolf and Rio were being played hourly. I did not have MTV at my house but my friend, Mary, did. I stayed many weekends at her house where we spent hours watching videos by Duran Duran, Spandeau Ballet, The Police, the Eurythmics and more.
The 80’s were a unique time. It was a “Romantic” era for pop music when male singers wore pretty clothes and makeup. It was a dream for Mary and I. We could indulge in typical teenage crushes but also admire the makeup and outfits of the artists we were crushing on. When British New Wave hit America, I remembered thinking THIS is the music I’ve been waiting for all my life (you know, all 13 years of it). It was my music.
In April this past year Duran Duran played, for the first time, in my hometown. Mary sent me the link with the announcement and a comment stating, This is thirty years too late for me. I decided it wasn’t too late for me. I thought about what my teenage self would think if she knew I had had the opportunity to see Duran Duran play, and I came to the conclusion that she would never forgive me if I didn’t go.
I easily found another friend, Sandy, to go to the concert with me. We purchased our tickets and I promptly ordered a tee-shirt that said “Hungry like the Wolf” on the front. The day of the show I donned my t-shirt and we arrived shortly after the gates opened to secure a spot front and center. When it was all said and done we would stand in that spot for about five hours. Over one hour waiting for the opening act, another hour waiting for Duran Duran then the actual show. We made friends with a couple of ladies standing behind us. One of them commented that I must be a true fan because of my shirt.
“I used to be,” I said, “but this is the first time I’ve ever seen them in concert”.
“Oh, I’ve seen them in concert 13 times,” she responded.
She proceeded to tell us about her adventures following Duran Duran, including the time she was traveling with her husband and saw Simon LeBon standing by a car parked in front of her hotel.
“Take my picture,” she had said to her husband, who was playing games on his phone.
Then she flew down three flights of stairs to introduce herself to Simon LeBon. Her husband, apparently, failed to take her picture because he never looked up from his game.
The other woman, a cute, dark-headed lady wearing a t-shirt with the picture of the British flag on the front, told us of how she had tried to get her daughter and husband to come to the show with her, but they had refused.
“My daughter looked at me and said ‘Who is Duran Duran?’ ”, she commented, “But I have to say it’s kind of nice to go to a show where everyone is the same age as you”.
We looked around. The audience was filled with women in their 40’s and 50’s. There was also a decent showing of middle-aged men which surprised me a little (but many of them may have been spouses) and there were some younger people sprinkled in here and there.
“Okay,” I said, looking playfully at Sandy and the ladies behind me, “We have to make a pact. When Duran Duran starts to play, people from the back are going to probably start rushing forward to get close. Can we all agree to create a little barrier in our spot so that we can keep our places? I’ve been standing here for hours and I don’t intend to lose my place.” Everyone agreed.
After the opening act, there was a delay before Duran Duran hit the stage. On several occasions, the audience mistook the testing of the lights for the arrival of the band and erupted into cheers. One time, I saw a bleached blonde person standing to the back left of the stage. I grabbed Sandy’s arm.
“It’s a Duran!” The squeal ruptured from my mouth involuntarily. Then I looked a little closer. “No,” I said, “Scratch that. I think it’s just a woman with the same haircut as Nick,” (Rhodes, the keyboard player). After a few more disappointments, I declared, “That’s it. I’m not squealing again until I definitively see a metrosexual standing on that stage!”
Shortly thereafter, just as I had predicted, a pretty, brash young woman pushed her way through the crowd to the front. She made it through because she caught everyone off guard, but a lady behind her did not. As the second woman tried to edge her way through the crowd, a blonde lady who looked like a soccer mom blocked her way.
“No,” soccer mom said in a firm mom voice, “ I can’t let you do that. These people have been standing here for hours. It’s not fair and you’ll have to find another way”.
“I’m sorry but you will have to find another way.”
The woman trying to cut through slipped down the row and attempted to slide past a man who had seen the exchange. He, too, blocked her way. Eventually, she gave up and stayed where she was.
Sandy cut her eyes at me and smiled. “You don’t mess with middle-aged women,” she said, “most of these women are moms”.
I nodded in agreement. “Yep, and mom’s know how to say no”.
Finally, the band started to play. Simon LeBon stepped on stage wearing a pair of white pants, bright green sneakers, a t-shirt and a blue-green jacket. He was cocky but fun. He strutted and they played all the greats, including “Planet Earth” and “Notorious”, as well as some new songs. I’m not going to lie, I thought it was a good show. After the initial squeal, I didn’t really feel any of the pangs of my old crushes. Thank goodness, ha ha! I guess that one squeal had just been pent up for so many years that it had to come out. But I found that I do still like the music. I like the new stuff. I’m not as enamored with their love of supermodels, it seems a bit shallow, but the music is fun and I like dancing to it. I guess in some ways, I’m still a Durannee. I wonder if I will go to see them again…when I am in my 50’s and they are in their 60’s or I’m in 60’s and they are in their 70’s. Maybe. I guess we’ll see.
We did our jobs as fans and screamed, danced and sang our way through the show. It closed with “Rio”. Gratuitous beach balls were cast into the audience and we popped them around instinctively. When it was over, Sandy and I said goodbye to our new friends and walked to our cars, hoarse but gushing about how it was a great show and so worth the time and money.
“I think my feet are a still a little asleep, though” Sandy said. “We stood a LONG time.”
“Yeah,” I agreed, “My dogs are barking, too…but I would do it all over again”.