Seven years ago. Wow. Hard to believe I've since sold that apartment and switched careers. And that what we spent on the ticket I'd now blow on a meal and wine at Blue Hill at Stone Barns at a single sitting. I wrote this the day after the show and now I look back on what I then considered the height of my maturity, only to know now there was more naivety to burn.
August 27, 2003--New York City
My head is full of chopstick. And I like it.
I have to admit that when Jason announced he got the tickets, I did not want to go. I'm about to move into my first purchased apartment, which I'm going to officially name Murphy's, because everything that could is going hellishly wrong. The night before the show, I was hot from packing, exhausted from all the paperwork stress, and the last thing I wanted to do was spend hours and hours on my feet, in a room full of sweaty, Thirty Somethings reliving longed for or regretted youth, never mind the price of the scalped ticket. Let's just say my first born is now spoken for.
But Jason and I had made a pact. We shook on it. If we could get tickets to this show for $200 or less, we were there.
And there we were. And it was worth every. single. penny.
As soon as I reached the sidewalk outside Webster Hall and saw the sign DURAN DURAN LIVE AT THE RITZ, I felt my first surge of excitement. This was it. The dream show I'd never seen and thought
I never would. In two hours, the people whose posters use to cover my bedroom, floor to ceiling, would be standing twenty feet or less away from me. At that moment, despite all the headache I knew would return the next day, I knew my night was going to be perfect.
When Jason and I finally got past the security check (I half expected to find overly "friendly" female guard's phone number in my front jeans pocket the next day) and into the Room Formerly Known as Ritz, I felt the first contractions of screams and giggles from the crowd and we hugged each other. "We're HERE." We kept saying, "This can't be REAL." "Is this for real?" Here we were, thirty-two years old, me with a mortgage, Jason already refinancing his model haunted mansion, when a mere twenty years ago, we were innocent twelve year olds whose only responsibility was to do homework, empty the dishwasher, and learn to reinterpret "Hungry Like the Wolf" for classical piano (so I could get away with sneaking it into my weekly lessons). Then try and catch their videos on rotation on MTV as many times as possible, switching channels back and forth till one came on.
As Jason pointed out, that was always the main allure of this band. These well educated, gorgeous young guys filming these videos in exotic locales, riding elephants and returning to their yachts with hot, aloof, body-painted babes sipping cocktails and winking at the camera. This band brought tailored (no relation) elegance back to pop, the likes of which no one in our generation had seen before. These young lads with their hairless chests, eyeliner and fedoras going on about turning one night stands into paradise. At the time, I didn't fully understand what that meant, but if John Taylor and Simon Le Bon wanted to take me, I would pull on another rubber braclet and pack my bags.
Another big difference between now and then: Now we can drink legally. All you purists (and my mother) are going to scoff at this, but I gotta tell ya, I needed at least two if I was going to make it another couple of hours on my feet. Oy, the back. So we downed our second shot, Dewars for me, Jason sailing with the Captain, and took our place in the crowd. We were close, maybe about ten rows back. Not quite a view to a kill, but good enough for now. I kept checking the watch, "Jason. Oh my God. Jason. Half an hour." Nervous gigglng. "Holy shit. Twenty minutes." Then it was five minutes, then one. The reggae song, "I Would Give Everything I Own" replaced the souless techno droning from the sound system. "They're starting to play good stuff. They have to be coming on after this song." Then "Adolescent Sex" by Japan. OK. Now. NOW they HAVE to be coming on. Then "Gimme Danger" by Iggy Pop. Suddenly Iggy goes silent and the lights went down.
We downed our last shot, hugged each other tight, and slowly turned to the stage amid the wall of screams. John Taylor was the first on stage, then Roger Taylor (we were half convinced it was all a ruse that the rumoured return of the notoriously, reclusive drummer was all a publicity stunt), then Nick Rhodes, then Andy Taylor, then... Simon LeBon, in all their forty-something hotness.
Then came the first drum beats of a song no one on this coast has heard live since 1982, "Friends of Mine." They said they were friends of mine. And thank god they weren't just passing time. A-mazing! Right then twenty years' worth of the calcified knots of tension that have formed between my shoulders suddenly melted away and so help me, I threw my arms high into the air, jumped up and down and screamed like my inner twelve year old.
They sounded great, and they seemed just as excited to be up there playing for us as we were to finally see them together again. From our vantage point, we couldn't see much of Andy and Nick, but John and Simon kept smiling and looking toward Roger, who kicked in full throttle as he smiled along and kept the beat. Say what you will about the pretty boys from Birmingham, but that is one kick ass rhythm section. John Taylor was and still is an incredible bass player, as was evidenced when they played his signature song, "New Religion." Yep, they played the good stuff. They blew the dust off tunes such as "Waiting for the Nightboat" (too bad my only source of lyrics for that track are printed in a Japanese language songbook that had pretty pictures in it), "Careless Memories," "Girls on Film" and "Planet Earth." Also on the playlist were modern classics such as "Come Undone" and "Ordinary World" as well as the torrid "Wild Boys," "Notorious" their cover of "White Lines" and two new danceable and catchy tracks which have been promised for a new album due out next year.
And how did they look? How many other Taylors was Simon hiding under his chins and jowels? I'll tell you this: I know what they did last summer. And it was spent eating protein, salads and working out. They. Are. CUT!!! Now whether Simon had work done on his face was hard to tell, but he was definitely sporting only one chin and you could see major muscle definition under his tight-fitting shirt. John is now very lanky, his features and perfect, square chin more rugged and defined, revisiting his eyeliner and highlight days, but having now traded the fedora for an interlocked double-D tattooo on his bicep. Roger looks as though not a day has gone by since his early retirement, Andy, oh nevermind, and a nearly makeupless Nick looks a little pale and washed out, but still as elegant and confident as ever. I'm seriously thinking about putting one of their posters up in my new bedroom.
OK. Now the bad news. Two MAJOR songs were not performed. It starts with R and ends with X, and it's about a "little friend" of Simon's. Maybe they couldn't afford to shower the audience in a waterfall? But the biggest crime? Folks, as Jason, who read an online preview had warned, you'll have to leave your lighters at home. No "Save a Prayer." You'll have to save it till the morning after. Perhaps with the new smoking ban clubowners thought people might be inspired to light up after? Well, maybe they were a few cents shy of being worth every penny.
But even so. Even when the lights came up and it felt as though the room was at least one hundred fifty degrees. Even though I had pools of sweat in places where I didn't know I had places, with my hair frizzed out to Jersey and the shots long ago warn off, this was, hands down one of the best nights of my life.
This afternoon I called Jason to tell him I'd be writing this. Was it real?
Yes. It was real. We were there.
And you should go too when they return for the arena tour. Don't let the rain hold you back.