Sunday, February 27, 2005

not a trace of irony

It was a friend's birthday and eight of us caught the Duran Duran concert at Staples Center. The tour is in support of the Astronauts album, it should called the "Un-Ironic Tour".

We had dinner at Wokcano, just south of The Pantry and a few blocks north of Staples Center. We loaded up on sushi and orange chicken then walked to the show. I knew it would a celebration of kitsch, but I had no idea I'd be hit over the head with it. Before we even got to Staples, my senses were assaulted. Was that Obsession that I smelled? Who took a bath in it, was it that girl with the crimped hair? Everywhere I looked, bad 80's fashion was proudly worn and I heard The Union of the Snake blasting from a car passing by. In the ladies' room, women were obsessing over their hair and outfits. Two women hogging the mirror were going on and on about their blue eyeshadow. "Excuse me, are you up on the stage performing tonight?" I asked. Puzzled, one replied, "No." Uh, yeah. Then get over yourself.

I didn't recognize the first song that DD opened the show with, it must have been from the new album (haven't heard it). The crowd was receptive, but it was obvious why we were all there, for sentimental reasons. Here's a partial set list, I know it isn't complete:

Hungry Like A Wolf (from Rio, 1982)
Planet Earth (from Duran Duran, 1981)
Come Undone (from The Wedding Album, 1993)
Union of the Snake (from Seven & The Ragged Tiger, 1983)
What Happens Tomorrow (new)
New Religion (from Rio, 1982)
Beautiful Colours (new)
Ordinary World (from The Wedding Album, 1993)
Save A Prayer (from Rio, 1982)
Notorious (from Notorious, 1986)
Wild Boys (from Arena, 1984)
The Reflex (from Seven & The Ragged Tiger, 1983)

White Lines (from Thank You, 1995)
Girls On Film (from Duran Duran, 1981)
Rio (from Rio, 1982)

The material has never been vocally challenging, but Simon sounded okay. He should be covered in a honey glaze though, he is such a ham. They had this video screen that didn't just have close-ups of the band, which is good. But at one point they had this animated thing going on which I didn't understand. At the end, a big "Duran Duran" in this Asian, chop-socky font covered the screen and all I could think of was, "I've got to try that restaurant, Duran Duran. I wonder if they deliver." At one point he spread his arms open wide a la Bono, as if to embrace all of Staples Center's occupants. Did he think he was in U2? Whenever they played a new song, the 30-something crowd would make a break for the restrooms or for another $9 watered-down beer. I didn't want to leave my seat, there was too much going on, even if it wasn't on the stage. Simon urged everyone to whip out their lighters during one ballad and let me just say - the times they have changed. Some obliged, but the glow seen all around the stadium was that of cell phones either taking snapshots or video of the stage. One woman in my crowd held up her cell phone, the light radiating from it a substitute for a lighter (she just quit smoking).

After the show, we stood on the top floor of the Center, surveying the crowd as they exited the stadium and the parking lots. It was a clear night and the lights of the downtown skyline looked great. One person in my group foolishly bought a Duran Duran mousepad and a $35 concert t-shirt. I told the rest of the crowd to wait until we walked up Figueroa, we could score $10 shirts there (better price, better quality). As they loaded up the van and made our way back to 5th and Spring, we polished off a round of downtown dogs. What a great way to end the evening.

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