Duran Duran fans were hungry like the wolf Friday, Aug. 17, as the band performed as part of the Live at the Garden summer concert series at the Memphis Botanical Gardens. Duran Duran’s Tennessee stop was one of their last stops in the U.S. as the band wraps up its world tour which started in March 2011.
Arriving around 5 p.m., I waited in line with others until the gates opened at 6:30 p.m. Those who had season passes to the venue were seated toward the front in assigned seating. Since I’m not a Tennessee resident, general admission was all that was available to me, meaning I would have to fight for my seat.
I continued to make small talk with the people in line around me until it was time to go in. As 6:30 p.m. approached, the gates were opened and hundreds of fans pushed and shoved their way through to get their ticket scanned and into the venue. Being I was one of the first 15 people to arrive, I knew I had a good shot of getting to the front.
After my ticket was scanned, I ran toward the venue, following the lead of those ahead of me. I reached my destination and landed at the front of general admission, right where I had wanted. Within the next 30 minutes, the whole general admission seating was packed and I could not see where it ended.
In front of us was not what you would expect to find at a typical concert. There were round dinner tables set up for those who had season passes. Little by little they came straggling in wearing cocktail dresses, carrying their wine coolers, and greeting others at their tables with hugs and hellos. Some were even setting out placemats, candles, and flower vases on their tables. It was obvious they were here for a social event and not Duran Duran.
A few minutes after 8:30 p.m., the lights on the stage dimmed and silhouettes of the band were seen entering the stage. As the first notes were played, the lights illuminated lead singer Simon Le Bon and the crowd went wild.
Those at the tables remained silent and turned to look back on those of us in general admission, surprised at the amount of yelling and screaming we were producing. It became instantly clear to everyone, even the band, that this would not be a typical concert.
As the band heated things up with some upbeat dance tunes, Le Bon tried his best to get everyone participating. Those at the tables continued to eat and seemed unimpressed at his attempt to involve them. As Le Bon yelled “we see you guys in the back,” the general admission crowd produced its loudest roar ever. This same level of enthusiasm continued from both of the parties for most of the night.
In another attempt to get the crowd involved, Le Bon walked into the crowd about halfway through the setlist and found two men to sing the recognizable intro of their hit song “The Reflex.” The men’s whimsy “ta na na na” got many laughing.
As the band slowed it down with songs such as “Save a Prayer” and “Ordinary World,” the audience was asked to get out their cell phones. Hundreds of phones instantly came out, lighting up the night sky. Despite the band’s attempt all night to get the audience involved, it wasn’t until they played “Hungry Like the Wolf” that some of the people at the tables realized they knew the song and finally stood up to join in. A mixture of “Wild Boys” and Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” ended the night before the band returned to the stage for two encore songs.
During “Girls on Film,” Le Bon announced the band, accidentally forgetting keyboardist Nick Rhodes, then once again entered the audience where a very lucky girl got to introduce Le Bon into the mic. Although the concert was very different from any Duran Duran concert I have been to before, it was obvious many weren’t there to see the band. Being in the back with true fans who love and enjoy them as much as I do made the entire concert worth it. The friendships I made were enough to keep me smiling for days.
The following day, Le Bon tweeted how great fans had been the night before, stating “Our fans were magnificent; they got the whole place on their feet. Even the supper club …” Overall, the concert was a great way to end my summer vacation and will be a fun story to tell for years to come.
To contact Erin Peden, email firstname.lastname@example.org.