Thursday, October 20, 2011

Like a Birthday or a Pretty View

Duran Duran
19 October 2011: State Theatre at Playhouse Square, Cleveland, Ohio

I have had Duran Duran’s new album in heavy rotation for months now. I love All You Need Is Now as much as any of their classic stuff. Completely against the cultural norm, I have been listening to the entire album as opposed to just the singles, whereas, back in the day I focused primarily on their hits. The result is All You Need Is Now has become one of my all-time favorite Duran Duran albums and one that I know every song from top-to-bottom.

Tracy and I have been excited about the show since we bought the ticket
s, so much so that I even convinced Jeff and Anna to pick up tickets when we got together for some home brewing a few weeks ago. Although we weren’t seated together, they were just in the next section over, so we got to hang out when we arrived, after Neon Trees’ opening set, and immediately following Duran Duran’s show. A good concert experience with good friends is hard to beat, and that’s just what we got as Adam & Jeff’s ’80s Alternative Rewind Adventure rolled on Wednesday night!

The celebrating throng was evenly distributed between men and women, and none of the guys in the audience looked like they were there under duress. The entire crowd was appreciative of the show, rising to their feet when the house lights first dimmed a few minutes after 9, and the only time they sat back down was during the brief mid-set “Tiger Tiger” instrumental off of Seven and the Ragged Tiger, giving lead singer Simon Le Bon’s voice a rest.

It’s hard to find any complaints at all with the song selection. I
would call it perfect; Tracy would have liked to have heard “Girls On Film”. Seven of the twenty-song set were pulled from All You Need Is Now, and those cuts really shone. The title track and “Girl Panic!”, my two favorite tracks off of the new album, may not eclipse the classic stuff, but they certainly matched those songs with their hooks, delivery, and energy.

I was startled by how powerful and moving
“Come Undone” was live. The other big surprise was just how damn fun “(Reach Up for the) Sunrise” was. Off of 2004’s Astronaut, it’s a song I’ve never paid much attention to, but it was a raucous main set closer!

My two favorite classic Duran Duran songs – “A View to a Kill” and “The Reflex” – were expected highlights that absolutely delivered, but, honestly, none of their definitive stuff fell short. “Is There Something I Should Know?”, “Careless Memories”, “Notorious”, “Hungry Like the Wolf” were all second half highlights. And the encore was above reproach: “Wild Boys” with a bit of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s classic “Relax” mixed in, and “Rio”.

My only complaint on the night: We were in the first row of the upper balcony, and the static stage backlights were seemingly aimed right at us. My eyes still hurt the next morning from staring straight into the blinding lights for two hours.

Although Tracy has seen Duran Duran before, 13-year-old her was still squealie and happy, and I had an amazing time. The combination of good friends, an excellent current album of material to work with, raw energy, an in-the-moment crowd, and a perfect song selection made for a great night!

(All photos by Tracy Besenyodi.)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Saving 12-Year-Old Me from the Avengers

Twelve-year-old me is positively beside himself about the Avengers movie coming next spring. And, I have to admit, 41-year-old me is pretty excited about it, too. I have never done an opening night, midnight screening of a movie, but I told Tracy and Jack when we left the theater after seeing Captain America that I am all about it for the Avengers premiere!

The interwebs and Twitterverse were abuzz last week when the first official trailer for Avengers was released. I was so excited when I finally hit the “play” button on my iPad, but, if I’m honest with myself, I was ultimately pretty let down by it.

There were three things that played against it for me...

First, the bulk of the trailer’s action sequences consisted of the explosions filmed in Cleveland this summer. When director Joss Whedon and his crew descended on Northeast Ohio earlier this year the Avengers hype reached a pretty high mark. I was fortunate enough to hear all kinds of cool behind the scenes details about the big budget production from a fellow POP! club member who was an extra during filming, and I don’t think I know anyone who avoided long and short clips of the action filmed here playing on the local news and YouTube months ago.

Second, the use of Nine Inch Nails’ “We’re in this Together” off 1999’s The Fragile felt horribly out of place. It was similar to my reaction rewatching the Ben Affleck Daredevil movie recently: The soundtrack dated the movie horribly. My affection for Nine Inch Nails, though deep, apparently does, in fact, know bounds.

Finally, there’s the thing that really rubbed me completely the wrong way about the trailer: Samuel L. Jackson’s first line in the trailer as Nick Fury is the answer to Agent Coulson’s off screen question, “What do we do?” And instead of a “We kick some ass!” or “We defend Earth!” or any number of bad ass quips you could hope for, you get a completely neutered, “We get ready.”


What? We just... get ready?!

Every time I hear that line, it’s delivered in my head in Eddie Murphy’s mocking-the-up-tight-black-cop “You’re not gonna fall for the banana in the tailpipe” voice from Beverly Hills Cop.

Now, I realize this is a “getting the band together” movie, and the overall theme of it probably is actually about, well, getting ready… the heroes we’ve seen in all the other great Marvel movies being gathered by S.H.I.E.L.D. and preparing for battle against this movie’s Big Bad. But, man, I really expected more badassery out of the gate when Nick Fury first opens his mouth.

I guess I need to avoid any more promotional hype for this juggernaut whenever I can, for my sake and the sake of 12-year-old me who really, really wants to love this movie.