Monday, October 17, 2011

Dancing On The Valentine

Nick Rhodes waves goodbye to my childhood.

In 1984, I was an unhappy child.

I was fifteen years old, Duran Duran was on their worldwide Sing Blue Silver Tour, and my mom would not allow me to attend the concert at the Capital Center. Like many of my peers, I was a Duran Duran freak. They were my favorite band. I fancied myself as the American Nick Rhodes. I desired the Roland Jupiter 8 synthesizer simply because it was Nick's keyboard of choice - so therefore, it had to be awesome. I had to go to the concert.

My mom would have none of it.

So, I did what any teenager does when he doesn't get his way: I moped around the house and lamented my lot in life. The biggest concert tour in the world and I was going to miss it.

This wasn't the first time I was denied a concert. An attempt to see AC/DC in 1981 with a close friend was promptly shot down by my parents. A proper boy going to see such bedlam? Not having it. Even the argument that I had already purchased the tickets (and had them in-hand) did nothing to help my cause. I moped for the very first time.

Duran Duran was the centerpoint of my teenage years. Not seeing them in concert in 1984 would haunt me for years. How could I embody the essence of Nick Rhodes if I never saw them live? My stage persona would be lacking because of it.

Finally, on the day before the concert, my mom relented. "Okay, you can go and see Duran Duran," she told me. Which upset me even more. One does not simply go to the biggest concert tour in the world the day before the show when it is completely sold out. It was just a no-win situation.

Years would pass and I would finally go to concerts on my own. The Go-Go's, INXS, SWANS, Depeche Mode, Frank Zappa, Erasure, Pet Shop Boys, 10,000 Maniacs and more. But I wouldn't have the opportunity to see Duran Duran until much later, in the mid-1990s, at Merriwether Post Pavilion. By then, their fame had softened to smaller venues, which would turn out to be more conducive to enjoying the experience. I would see them again in 1999 at the Nissan Pavilion.

Through the years, the band lineup changed. In the early 2000s, the original members got back together, but I could never find the right time to see them. Then on Thursday, I receive a Facebook message from a friend in San Diego playing in a Duran Duran tribute band.

Truth be told, I think tribute bands are kinda odd. I mean, I'm a fan. I love the music, but a tribute band? That's serious fandom. His post reminded me to check around and see if Duran Duran (the real band) was playing anywhere and turns out they were playing in Washington, D.C. at the D.A.R. Constitution Hall on Sunday night. Tickets were available. Mom was not around to deny me, and I was going.

The interesting and odd thing about going to a concert of your favorite teenage band when you're 42 is that everyone else at the concert is around your age - much different than Lady Gaga last winter. To be honest, I'm not usually surrounded by people my own age and it reminded me of my 20th year high school reunion: everyone looked damn old.

Sure, there were a few people in the 20s, but the majority of attendees were 30s and up. The same people who went to see them during the Sing Blue Silver Tour were now denying their teenage children their opportunity to see The Black Eyed Peas in concert while leaving them at home to watch Simon LeBon.

As always, Duran Duran attracts a wide swath of people. From normal, suburban yuppie types to avante garde types, old school goths, immigrants, tourists, fetishists and everyone in between. Everyone is welcome. Everyone gets along. As it should always be.

Of course, by morning some of them will be facing off in the typical democrats v. republicans kind of division we know as America today, but tonight everyone is waiting with cell phones in hand, anticipating waving them over their heads during "Save A Prayer."

The concert itself was a good one. Constitution Hall has got to be one of the best venues in the region. It's relatively small, has good acoustics and there doesn't seem to be a bad seat in the house. Of course, I somehow found myself on the orchestra floor at the front row, stage right when my tickets were for Section C, Row K, high on the sides.

I had simply walked onto the floor, found myself a row of seats, waited for someone to challenge me but when no one did (maybe a little), I just kept quiet and waited for Simon to take the stage.

It turns out that the row of seats I had found were kept for handicapped attendees and other misfits. A lady in a wheelchair and her companions, two other ladies and a very drunk blonde in a tight, black mini-dress that looked quite a lot like 1980s Kim Basinger sat next to me.

And when I say "drunk", I mean DRUNK. Wasted. Like have a hard time standing and balancing kind of drunk. She had a VIP Access badge, making me wonder if she might be a girlfriend or wife of one of the band members. Nothing quite like having your teen idols know you because they hate you because their woman was all over you.

Once upon a time, this would have been a welcome event. Everyone partying and boozing. Drunk girl comes up, wants to dance and then who knows what? A year ago, no problem. Today? Slow your roll there, girl. I'm happy just enjoying the show and the last thing I need is some sort of Facebook photo of me with some slutty, drunk girl.

I should've stayed in my seat in Section C, Row K.

Happily, she soon tired of my indifference and latched onto the big, burly floor bouncer. Whew! That's just the way I like it!

The concert itself was good. Lots of oldies but goodies, along with a number of tunes for their new CD that I'm not familiar. I guess I should be a better fan. Simon and the gang are getting old - they've gotta be over 50 by now, but the women still scream the loudest for John Taylor.

As the show continues, I silently wonder what it really must have been like to be in the audience during Sing Blue Silver. Duran Duran was at its zenith. They were touring the world and playing to stadiums. The world was ablaze with craze for the Fab Five. It would be the tour that would end the band as we knew it.

After that tour, succumbing to the pressures of success and fame, the band split. John and Andy went to form Power Station while Simon and Nick (with John too) started up Arcadia. Roger left music altogether to live on his farm in the English countryside. It would never be the same again.

And I'm still left with the feeling that while the show was good, it wasn't Sing Blue Silver. I'll never be able to capture that experience. It is gone like sand in the hourglass. Gone like Save A Prayer is from their setlist.

Da na na na...