Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Beth’s Music Moment: Ironing Simon’s Pants

And you wanted to dance so I asked you to dance
But fear is in your soul
Some people call it a one-night stand
But we can call it paradise

~~ Duran Duran, “Save A Prayer”

Before I get into the story of the rather strange title of this entry, I’ll give you a review of my beloved Duran Duran at Ravinia Park Pavilion north of Chicago on Saturday, July 9th! (Click on a picture to embiggenate.)

When Ken and I saw Duran Duran at Berkeley last October, the show immediately rocketed into my Top Five concerts ever. The concert at Ravinia also rocketed into my Top Five and even passed the show at the Greek!

Why was this one better? Well, they were both fantastic. But this one was a bit of a bigger production. I think the first leg of the tour last year was a test—an attempt to see how well they would be received, how ticket sales would be, what songs, both old and new, would go over well. When they expanded this year’s tour, a continuation of the “Paper Gods” tour, they added a few songs, the lights and video seemed more fleshed out, and it seemed a little less stripped down than the show we saw at the Greek. This was two hours of sheer entertainment and I danced my ass off!

First, the venue. It was my first time at Ravinia Park and it was absolutely gorgeous! It really is a park and the stage and pavilion are surrounded by grass and trees. The lawn was absolutely packed with people having elaborate picnics, including tables with tablecloths, huge spreads of food, drinks...I said it was like a fancy version of tailgating at Notre Dame! Duran Duran posted on their Facebook page that a couple had even gotten married and had their wedding reception there and that they were happy to be a small part of the couple’s special day. Awww!

Our seats were in the pavilion, though, not on the lawn. Seeing them up there onstage for real is much more fun than seeing them on a big video screen! Our seats were great (I got us VIP tickets via the DD website because I’m a club member) and we settled down with Shane and Matt to wait. The show started right on time, with the opening band Chic and Nile Rodgers taking the stage promptly at 7 PM. They opened for DD when we saw them at the Greek, too, and they blew me away then. They didn’t disappoint this time, and Nile Rodgers is an absolute legend. Not only is he an amazing producer and songwriter, he is an incredible showman. He knows how to get a crowd moving and his smile just lit up the whole joint. He talked about being a cancer survivor as an introduction to the song he wrote about that, “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk. It’s not often that I stand for the whole time for an opening act, but I honestly don’t know how anyone could sit down for that set!

After a brief break between bands, in which we got to see my cousin Michael and his husband Mike, the lights went down and the opening to “Paper Gods” started. There was lots of fog and dramatic lighting as the band took the stage, and then the lights hit Simon as he started to sing. Ooo, I get chills just writing about it! For the next two hours, it was hit after hit, and on the songs that weren’t hits from the new album, I danced my ass off, anyway! I sang, I pumped my fist in the air for “Wild Boys,” I yelled, “Play that fuckin’ bass, John!” I had a TOTAL BLAST. In Berkeley, I didn’t get to hear “Wild Boys” or their cover of “White Lines,” but I got both in this show! They had also not been playing “The Reflex” on some of the European shows, but it was back in the setlist, as was “Save A Prayer” which was surprisingly not on the Nashville setlist. The band dedicated that song to Nick Rhodes, who sadly was not there due to a family emergency back in England. You were missed, Nick, but the woman filling in for him, MNDR, did a great job in his place!

One of the coolest parts? Shane mentioned it first, but it was my feeling upon seeing them in Berkeley: they were really having fun up there. Simon was smiling and joking, John was grinning, the backup singers were dancing around and having a blast, and they were all loving us for loving them. Of course, Roger was his usual stoic self, but he flashed a big grin when they came out to take a bow! Like I always say, “Show the band some love!” You’ll get it back a thousandfold with an incredible show, and that’s what happened here. John was wearing a t-shirt with a sequined “Rio” smile on it, and at one point, cheeky Simon went up and kissed him on the chest. Made me laugh!

They are absolute professionals and incredibly talented musicians. The show was perfect, with no technical glitches or sound problems. I kind of lost myself for a couple of hours and what better way to do it? This show reaffirmed my love and respect for the band. Not that it needed reaffirming!

Oh, and have I mentioned Simon Le Bon’s tight white pants yet? No? Shame on me! That became a bit of a joke, because for a while there, practically every review I read of their shows included a mention of how good Simon looks in his “tight white trousers” or “tight white jeans.” (It’s true. He does.) That is what led to the title of this entry. After we checked into the hotel, the four of us were sitting around talking before we went to dinner. I said, “I wonder where the band is staying? Palmer House, maybe?” Either Shane or Matt said, “They’re staying right here!” There was an adjoining door to the room next door and one of them said, “John is staying next door!”

We were cracking up because it was funny to imagine Duran Duran staying in a Courtyard Marriott. Then Shane took it to another level and said, “Simon is probably opening the closet, pulling out the iron and ironing board, and ironing his tight white pants right now!” I don’t know what it was, but that struck us so funny that I fell over laughing on the bed. Not only imagining them staying in a Courtyard Marriott but picturing Simon ironing his own pants. Probably in his underwear, right? Right!

But wait, there’s more! The next morning, as we’re getting ready to go grab some breakfast, I get a text from Shane: “New band name: Ironing Simon’s Pants”! I about died!

But wait, there’s even more! When I mentioned that on Facebook, our friend Tim came up with an album cover for us. I’ll let you know when it’s released! (Don’t hold your breath!)

I experienced a bit of post-showital blues, but I’m back to my usual self. It was a total kicky blast of a weekend. Thanks to Saint Ken for putting up with our shenanigans, thanks to Shane and Matt for aiding and abetting in said shenanigans, and thanks to Duran Duran for making me smile for so many years. I don’t think I could adore them more. Fangirl is happy!