Friday Roundup: Duran Duran at Terminal 5, Paper Gods review, Moonbeam City, Glitter Princes

I went to see Duran Duran Monday night at Terminal 5 in Manhattan. Hadn’t planned on going, but a friend couldn’t use her ticket at the last minute, so she very generously gave it to me. It was a pretty stupendous show. I met up with my friend’s friend Jane, who turned out to be delightful company, and we managed to stand very, very close to the stage; my own phone is rubbish, so that photo of Simon (with bonus photobomb by John) was taken by Jane. 

Anyway, the boys looked and sounded great. Fun evening filled with cool people, from the awesome lady passing out free individual bottles of prosecco and pinot grigio outside the door to the woman on my subway train home who identified me as a fellow concertgoer by my wristband and struck up a conversation.

I’ve been having a good time listening to their new album, Paper Gods. Here are my fast and messy track-by-track thoughts:


  1. PAPER GODS – As I’ve mentioned before in one of these roundups, there’s a kick-ass three-minute song buried inside a bloated seven-minute track. Also I’m not sure why Simon seems to be scolding me for my conspicuous consumption (“The next thing you must have/front piece with matching bag/It’s nothing to be glad about, or sad when you forget about it...”). You’re Duran Duran! You’re all about conspicuous consumption, lads.
  2. LAST NIGHT IN THE CITY – Love this one, even though it’s too dependent upon the female guest vocals (provided by Kiesza on the album; the fabulous Anna Ross stepped up to do the heavy hitting during the concert).
  3. YOU KILL ME WITH SILENCE – I’m indifferent to the chorus, but the verses have a nicely slinky, haunting quality to them. Reminds me a little of Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Face to Face”, which is not a bad thing at all. 
  4. PRESSURE OFF – 2015’s equivalent of “Notorious”. People who love “Notorious” will love it. I’m not in that camp.
  5. FACE FOR TODAY – Solid, solid. Something about the strange key shift going into the chorus reminds me of a lot of Japanese pop, where it’s almost atonal and cacophonous, but somehow it works. I don’t know enough about music theory to explain it well (it is probably clear that I know diddlysquat about music theory, in fact), but Two-Mix’s “Rhythm Emotion” is an example of what I’m talking about. 
  6. DANCEOPHOBIA – Ah, the dreaded Lindsay Lohan track. Look, Simon, when Lindsay asks if she can perform on your album, it’s totally okay to say no. Anyway, the Lohan spoken-word part is flat-out embarrassing, and the song is dumb as all hell, but damn, it’s insanely catchy (“I know what it is coming over ya/You don’t dance, danceophobia…”). At the concert, the boys played this one along with a healthy load of some of my all-time favorite songs. “Wild Boys”! “View To a Kill”! “Come Undone”! Hey, guess which song got stuck on perpetual repeat in my brain all the next day?
  7. WHAT ARE THE CHANCES? – I have no use for this track. Guitar fans should note the presence of former Chili Pepper John Frusciante. Continuing with my habit of comparing songs on this album with other songs they remind me of in some strange and no doubt arbitrary way, I’m going to say this one reminds me of Oasis’ “Stop Crying Your Heart Out.” 
  8. SUNSET GARAGE – Another track that’s kind of lost on me, though I’m charmed by Simon’s very English pronunciation of “garage”.
  9. CHANGE THE SKYLINE – I really like this one. I have no idea why, though. A handful of tracks sound like they’d be right at home as the theme song for a rousing early-nineties anime series. FACE FOR TODAY is one; this is another.
  10. BUTTERFLY GIRL – More guitar work from Frusciante. Now Simon’s lecturing me about my casual drinking: “And I still hope you’re going to realize/There’s only one kind of happy in a glass of wine.” When did you become such a scold, Simon? For your information, I find many different kinds of happy in a glass of wine.
  11. ONLY IN DREAMS – Next.
  12. THE UNIVERSE ALONE – Duran Duran’s slow songs are usually not my jam. Some are “Save a Prayer” people, some are “Wild Boys” people, and I’m firmly in the latter camp. I like this one, though, because it’s moody and apocalyptic and bleak. I bet the way the sound breaks up into muffled, distorted static at the end was Nick’s brainchild. Nick seems to really go for that sort of thing.
  13. PLANET ROARING – The first of three excellent bonus tracks on the deluxe version of the album. Probably my favorite track. Something about the soaring rise into the chorus tugs at my soul.
  14. VALENTINE STONES – Damn catchy, and lyrically, it’s the most evocative song on the album (“But I don’t want to be just a toy that you keep at home/Like your valentine stones”).
  15. NORTHERN LIGHTS – The album ends on a good one, even though the front is padded out with all kinds of weird Foley effects (crushing snow, panting noises, distorted static…  you get in the studio, and you just can’t help yourself, can you, Nick?). I like to think the lyrics are all about the hoops you have to jump through to sleep with Simon: “If you want to stay tonight/Write your name across the sky…

For reasons that should be obvious to anyone who knows anything at all about me, I had to watch the pilot for Comedy Central’s Moonbeam City. Even if I hadn't been sold by the animation style (I was; oh, I was), I would've been sucked in just by the phrase "Starring Rob Lowe as Dazzle":




Yeah. This show is shameless Richter bait, that’s all I have to say. It’s gleefully dumb and tacky, but I think I love it. And somewhere, the Estate of Patrick Nagel is clearing its collective throats and shooting humorless glances in the direction of Comedy Central.

Gosh, I have no idea why Moonbeam City made me think of this, but it just dawned on me that I haven’t done much work on Glitter Princes lately. I’ll try to amp up productivity in the coming weeks. Here’s a sketch of Sebastian and Etienne, looking unusually melancholy and introspective:


That’s all I’ve got. Tschüß until next week.

Comments

DKoren said…
Wow! That is a great up-close picture!! How cool! We're going to their Hollywood Bowl concert, where will be waaaaay back in the upper levels somewhere. Sigh. Still...

This won't be an album that gets a lot of playtime here, sadly. I really appreciate your recommended shortened version of Paper Gods from that post a bit ago. Made a huge difference in the listenability factor of that one! I actually do like What are the Chances, even though, like you, I prefer the Wild Boys type of songs. I think it's mostly because I am inordinately fond of whenever Simon starts wailing. It's awesome, it's wonderful, and I tend to love songs where he just goes off and vocalizes with no words. The Universe Alone is also cool. You know, I thought my download had gone bad when I hit the distortion at the end! I was like, oh man, something went wrong here... ROFL.

My favorite song on the album by far is On Evil Beach, which is on the alternate version of the album from Target (why? why are there two albums with different bonus songs? WHY??????) Anyway around, On Evil Beach totally rocks for me. I dig that one. All minor key and a catchy melody and SHORT. Under 3 min, and with all these longer songs, I appreciate a song that gets in, gets it done, and ends.
Morgan Richter said…
When I saw them at Madison Square Garden in 2011, we had ridiculously bad seats. Couldn't see the stage at all. We're seeing them again at the Garden next month for their concert with Adam Lambert, and I imagine again we'll have ludicrously bad seats. So it was very, very cool being so close to the stage (standing in the mosh pit; I counted five heads between us and the stage). I was astonished how close we were; of the band members, we were furthest from Roger, and even then, you can see from that picture that his drum kit was right there.

(Funny thing: Standing in the line ahead of us as we were waiting to enter, I could see mostly, as you'd expect, fortysomething women. In the pit? Standing in front of us, it was mostly twentysomething dudes. I don't know where they came from, or why they were even at a DD concert in the first place. I'm glad the band is attracting a younger fanbase in a nontraditional demographic, but dude, most of the guys were really tall. I was very, very thankful I was wearing heeled boots.)

Heh, yeah, the first time I listened to The Universe Alone, it was on a copy someone put up on YouTube, and when it hit the garbled ending, I assumed someone's upload had gone terribly wrong. Then it dawned on me that it was more likely just Nick, doing his usual thing in the studio.

I like On Evil Beach a lot. Yeah, the two different versions with different bonus tracks seems like a cash grab to get people to buy multiple copies, and I am old and cranky enough that it annoys me. Short songs in minor keys all the way with me, too.
DKoren said…
Okay, that is really odd about the young guys right in the very front. Very curious and makes me go, huh. That pic is a lovely thing. Sooooo close! And John has a lovely smile right there.

The multiple version thing of the album make me quite cranky.
Morgan Richter said…
I have no real explanation for all the young guys in front. There were plenty of fortyish women, too, but right in front of us? It was a sea of young guys. No idea.

It was neat seeing up close what a good time the band was having during the performance. Especially Simon and John, who grinned a lot and shared microphones with each other and had a lot of fun crowd interaction. Roger and Nick mostly kept their heads down and did their thing.
Cheryl K said…
The young guys thing isn't a new phenomenon. When I saw them in concert in 2000 at Foxwoods Casino, there were two young guys near me, probably in their early twenties, absolutely screaming for Simon...and that's basically all I remember of that show.
Morgan Richter said…
Cheryl, how strange. I'm glad to see twentysomething guys show up at concerts, but they really don't seem like the band's target demographic. We had a trio of young guys right in front of us, and a bunch more between us and the stage.
DKoren said…
So, the Duran Duran concert at Hollywood Bowl was very fun. You know, I'm not sure why, but all the Paper Gods tracks they played were so much better live in concert than on the album. Maybe it was just cuz Simon was so full of energy and enthusiasm that they came to life in cocnert, where on CD they're flatter? I don't know what it is, but he fricking sold me on songs I wasn't all that keen on beforehand. Even Dancephobia was damned fun live, and I Did Not Like It beforehand.

The only downsides were all technical ones. There were two bands before them, and the stage crew took fricking bloody please-dear-god-can-you-move-like-you-have-a-purpose forever between each to set up. So much so that we found out later DD had to pull several songs from their line up cuz all the time got used up. Including Wild Boys. Grrrr. And the guys running the cameras for the big screens seemed to think Simon was the only member of the band. There was precious little Roger and Nick (which I kind of expect at this point), but I swear even less of John, which is just plain wrong. You know half the women in that audience were probably John Taylor fans and they got totally gypped of any big screen shots. Crying shame. And he had this gorgeous blue bass that was so lovely.

And it is so awesome to people watch. The most unlikely looking people were there. So weird.

Morgan Richter said…
I love the Hollywood Bowl, DKoren. Something about sitting out under the sky, listening to music... Sounds like a magical night, even with the technical problems. At the Terminal 5 show, too, it took monstrously long to get set up after the opening act. I mean, it probably was a reasonable amount of time for the amount of work that needed to be done, but it seemed glacially slow.

I'm seeing them at the Garden on Thursday (it's in the smaller theater inside MSG, not the huge-ass stadium, so my odds of having a decent seat are better than last time), and it's a multi-artist performance (Adam Lambert is also on the bill, which is relevant to my interests), so I'm expecting a long night, what with all the acts getting on and off the stage. It'll probably be worth it, though.

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