Katy has been bugging me for something from Australia... well, seeing as we left Australia over a week ago it's a little late for a postcard, but I can tell you all a little bit about how it all went, from my perspective, and hopefully, that will shut her up!
As an extra teaser I'm going to make this a competition of sorts, and whoever is first to answer correctly will win a prize.
We arrived in New Zealand on Easter Thursday, early. It was so quiet, no traffic, almost spooky. We had a few days rehearsal planned in Auckland before our first gig of this Australasian tour. I was really jazzed about it. We had only played in New Zealand once before, and that was with Robbie Williams, _________ years ago. For me, that trip had been a major disappointment, at least as far as those particular shows had been. It had been planned as a co-headlining trip, but when we arrived at the field for the first of the shows with Robbie in Auckland, we realized it wasn't a co-headline at all. It was Robbie's stage, Robbie's lights, Robbie's show, and we were opening for him, or, if we wanted to be charitable about it, we could have said we were his special guests. Anyway, enough of that, this time it was our show, at the Vector Arena, and all over Auckland there were huge posters advertising the show, which made us all feel excited. You would all have been amused to have seen the venue we rehearsed at for several days, a club called The Power Station! And yes, it was a shrine to the eighties. Everywhere framed posters of eighties stars, gold discs and other trivia, lots of us!... and oddly enough, I really liked it! It felt really good, especially the wall that had an 'Arena' framed poster in between a poster for Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' tour and U2's 'Rattle And Hum'.
When it comes to rehearsing, we don't drive ourselves too hard, and besides, the jet lag was hitting us all where it hurt most... It was almost fun, as if we were stoned out of our gourds! A few hours every day seemed to be satisfactory.
The Westin hotel, our home for the week was on a marina, and beautiful for morning walks. Auckland's main shopping street, ___________, was closed all weekend, which didn't stop me getting to Auckland's best music store, one of the oldest and biggest alternative music stores in the region, ___________, where I picked up Goldfrapp's new CD. Have you heard 'Clowns'? Every girl should hear it, it's extraordinary.
Showday! I had breakfast with Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlain, up at their hotel. Photographer Kristen Burns, who took the gorgeous portraits of us (if I say so myself) on the 'RCM' CD cover, was on the road with them, so she hooked us up. We would be playing the V Festival throughout Australia with them and they had played Vector Arena night before us. I must say, I really enjoyed spending time with those guys. Jimmy is a really positive, good guy, and it wasn't until our last show together, in Perth, that I would get to see what an awesome drummer he is. Billy is sweet and interesting, all music. It turns out the Pumpkins are major Grand Prix junkies, like Duran are for Soccer/Football. We exchanged views on the state of the music nation, neither of us really having a clue, to be honest, but when I mentioned that I was getting into Chicago blues Billy just lit up. It seems he is a major collector of rare vinyl and even takes a turntable on the road, which I felt rather trumped my Bose sound dock for commitment to the cause. And boy, did he wolf down that bacon and pancakes! That was the last time I saw a morsel pass his lips, however, which would explain his perfectly slim build.
The gig. Ah, the gig! The gig that echoed around the world. The storming off of the stage. The forgetting of the lyrics. I often think of gigs as soccer games. If it was a great gig, 2-0 victory, a so-so show, maybe a 0-0 draw. If it really sucks, poor crowd attendance, sloppy playing, maybe a 0-1 loss at home! Looking back at the Vector show I think of it as a 0-0 draw. The Kiwi crowd were fucking amazing, and they stayed connected to us throughout the ride. It was a long, sprawling performance, almost two and a half hours long. We threw everything at them, and some of it...misfired! I remember saying after the show we could have done a little more rehearsals, and yet, the problems we had during the electro-set that forced us to stop the show more than once were the kind of technical problems that are almost impossible to anticipate. Perhaps with more time allowed for preparation our computer tech would have had more time to review changes we had made to our arrangements, but what the heck. Hopefully the audience still had a good time, it certainly slayed the performance we gave in Auckland previously. If we haven't burnt our bridges there, I would like to visit more of NZ next time, Christchurch and Wellington perhaps. We shall see.
And so, to Oz...
How can I explain my feelings about the great Australian nation? I hope I don't offend anyone if I say that, when I walk the streets of Australia, I feel the country is populated by members of my own family that left Birmingham many years ago because they didn't like the weather. I feel an extraordinary closeness to the people there, more so than I do in the U.S., even though I live there and obviously, love it too, but in a different way. On top of that, we had our first number one record in Australia, our first single 'Planet Earth', thanks in large part to the promotion Molly Meldrum gave us on his TV show __________. Our early tours there were insane, off the charts! Today it's different, a mellower experience that feels right, age appropriate even...
Our first stop is Sydney. Anyone who has been lucky enough to visit Sydney will tell you it is perhaps the most beautiful city of it's size in the world. If you are lucky enough, as a tourist, to book yourself in the Hyatt hotel on the rocks, right under the Harbour bridge, you are in for a real treat. The beauty of Sydney Harbour opens itself out to you like the legs of an eager virgin...(excuse me?) sorry... I got carried away there. Recommended reading" 'That Fatal Shore' by Robert Hughes.
First show of the tour, that night is at the Entertainment Center. Scene of a date back in the day that actually made the Guiness Book Of Records for the loudest audience roar on record. Phew! Try topping that in your forties! When we took the stage that night we knew we had to win (to continue the soccer analogy,) that a draw wasn't going to make it. Thankfully it wasn't. Thanks to a fantastic crowd, and the added pressure of the Pumpkins in the crowd, we pulled it together and played a blinder. We had made a couple of changes to the Vector show, tightening it up a little. We are always making little adjustments to the running order, as if the show itself is a Formula One race car that we are always trying to get the best possible performance out of. Moving one song from this point in the show to that, changing the way we end one song and begin another, little changes like altering tire pressure, or streamlining the wing mirrors.
Next night is the first V Festival, in Sydney. On the bill we meet CSS, from _________, and Queens Of The Stone Age. I am happy to meet some fellow travellers. One of my favourite bands, ___ from Paris are playing on our stage before us, which I take to be a great compliment. The festival scene is a whole new ball gown for us, as we like to say, never really having had any experience of it, but we are taking advantage of any opportunities we get lately to go out and strut our stuff to festival crowds. I likened the experience, at least for the audience, to eating from a buffet as opposed to an intimate dinner for two that our own shows usually represent. I have always preferred the one–on-one experience myself, but there are a lot of people out there that prefer the smorgasbord, that like to try as many different tastes as possible throughout the course of a day. My kids have taught me that. We are all pretty pleased with the way the show goes, and have to acknowledge that the fact that the audience, in part, is shifting throughout the performance - arriving late or leaving early so they can see some Duran Duran only as part of some agenda to see as many acts as they can - is not personal, that it affects all festival acts equally.
Next day is check out of Sydney Harbour Hyatt, and a flight to the Gold Coast, north east Australia. All Craig, our tour manager, is talking about is the intense rain that they have been getting up there, days of it, and the festival field is a mudbath. So much so that there is talk about calling it off. And yet, as the plane begins its descent and banks slowly towards Brisbane airport, the sun is out, bright and strong. We have a half hour drive to our hotel, the Palazzo Versace- how appropriate! An hour or so turn around for shower, hair-wash etc before a drive over to the gig. It is a bit grimy, I must say, and there is a strong smell of... something, in the air.
It was rather damp, as shows go, and after the back to back Sydney bonanza, seemed a little flat. But still, the people that showed up made it great and thanks to them for that. The next day was our first day off since we had left home, wahoo! And what do Duran Duran do on a day off? They find someone to let them use their (preferably rather large) yacht, and take a little cruise around the neighbourhood. Or rather all Duran Duran except one. This one! Who chose to stay behind so he could watch soccer... What's up with that?
Anyway, day off passes uneventfully. No trouble encountered. Thank you Gold Coast.
Tuesday. Fly to Adelaide. Perform blazing show at the Entertainment Centre then hop on a late night flight to Melbourne. Arrive at Melbourne Hotel early hours of the morning, climb into bed (or pass out in elevator). Melbourne is another favourite place of mine that seems home to many many lost relatives and family members that I never met. In truth it's a raving melting pot of ethnicity and cultures. What was once a staid prideful Victorian outpost is now a dynamic trans-Asia whirlwind of a city, that seems to be changing so fast it can hardly keep up with itself. I really enjoyed the time I spent in Melbourne. I met some cool folk down there and really got out and about. I also watched at lot of DVD's. 'Jimi Hendrix' and 'Spooks'.
The first of our two Melbourne shows is on Friday, at the Palais, a beautiful old theatre in the St Kilda area that we first played in _______. After all the challenges of the last week, this gig practically plays itself. The crowd are with us for every note, and we play pretty much every note just right. It's a classic night with Duran Duran! Next day is the V Festival, and in some ways it is a bit of a let down, after having that lovely sold out crowd at the Palais all to ourselves. Back in the Festival mode we are about to go onstage when someone happens to notice there is only a small crowd gathered in front of our stage. We let another ten minutes pass, allowing Queens Of The Stone Age to peak, and for CSS to close their show, freeing up more eager buffet grazers to stroll over to the Duran Duran stage. Phew... That's how it is with this shit, as we are beginning to realize, and for an hour we are in complete command of the festival. A killer 'Girls On Film' gives way to a soaring 'Ordinary World' and oooops... where did they all go? Time for the Smashing Pumpkins, kids, so off go the drifters, leaving our beautiful solid crew of Duranies at the front. They were there at the beginning and they were there at the end. Thanks guys.
No time to slow down now, cases are packed for an early Sunday departure to Perth, and in the first class cabin we snuggled up with assorted Pumpkins and Queens, says Rog, 'I could learn to love this festival touring.' Glastonbury, Coachella.. if you are listening, we're ready for you. And as if to emphasize this point, Perth is an absolute cracker! The stages are side by side, which means everyone at the festival gets to see and hear every note every band plays. We are standing stageside guitars at the ready as the Queens are wrapping up their amazing act, which is serving everyone in our band notice that it's time to deliver the goods (except Nick, who doesn't give a fuck, just keeps muttering.. 'I just don't get it...'). The rest of us take the stage with a little something to prove and we go at like men who haven't seen their wives in a month (which, in fact, we haven't...). Perth deserves its own show for sure, and not in another ten years. Afterwards I thanked promoter Michael Coppel profusely, this tour had been an all around win-win for team Duran. Maybe even 3-0.
Next morning the beat don't quit. Early departure to the airport, and a flight to Jakarta via Singapore and points west for the Pacific Rim leg of the world tour. But that's another story.
Ok Katy? Try finding a postcard all this will fit onto! Or maybe just make this in to a Blog. Let’s take a break from the postcards, shall we?
Love and big, big thanks to everyone that showed up in Zew Nealand and Oz-tralia, you really made it great for us. Let's do it again soon.
*we have a contest winner & can't accept any more submissions. thanks!