Your Stories April Albrecht

A Duranie's Dedication

Photography: Michael Ebelshauser

April Albrecht A Duranie's Dedication
April Albrecht with Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran

Four Decades of Tours

 

I am an American fan of Duran Duran and have been a dedicated Duranie since the early 80’s and I can count the number of their shows that I have attended on literally two hands. I go for the music, for seeing the guys, taking pictures (when it was eventually okay to do so), and the overall atmosphere of absolute fun, dancing, and just letting go.

 

Of course, the chance meeting is always a plus! However, what I have noticed, over four decades is the change in their tours – the production, set, everything.

 

I thought it might be interesting to give my perception on the changes and my experience.

 

Sing Blue Silver

 

My very first Duran show was February 18, 1984 on the Seven and the Ragged Tiger tour. This was part of the tour filmed for the documentary Sing Blue Silver. The date was the day before my birthday, and I attended it with my best friend Kirsten.

 

At the time I lived in rural Missouri, so coming into the big city of St. Louis to attend a concert was an adventure. The venue was the Kiel Auditorium. The Kiel closed in the 90s and was only recently renovated and opened again for shows. 

 

On the Roam Again

 

I went back there again for the first time a couple of years ago to see Tim Allen with my son. It is almost mind-boggling at the emotions a building can evoke. But it was when I saw the stage, the memories from 30-plus years ago came rushing back. I was a teenager at high school. My idols and the obsession of my life were there in front of me. I wasn’t close to the front at all. However, it didn’t matter as I had a giant video screen to provide me closeups of the band! The glimpses of NIck Rhodes sent me into a tizzy! The show was awe-inspiring.

 

Roger Taylor was surrounded by his drums on the back left center. Nick Rhodes behind the keyboards on the back right center. Andy Taylor was taking up the front right side with his guitars. John Taylor with his bass on the front left side. Simon Le Bon had a free rein, on the roam wherever he pleased on stage. The guys of Duran Duran were having fun onstage performing.

 

Energy and Passion

 

The interaction between the members was amazing. You could feel their friendship, energy, and passion radiate out into the crowd, which fuelled us up even more. The backdrop for the show were five pillars that climbed as high as the naked eye could make out. Well, from my view at least! I remember crying when the show ended.

 

I was smiling and on cloud nine, the tears were those of sheer happiness. I loved these five guys to death, and they just played for me!  Oh, for the love of a teenage girl and her idols!

Simon Le Bon Duran Duran Live 2000 Photo Michael Ebelshauser

Pop Trash

 
 

My second show was on August 21, 2000, part of the Pop Trash tour. I had graduated from high school in 1985 then attended college that Fall, but I ended up changing my major to Party 101. After that year, life happened. Married, divorced, met another guy, had a baby and married again.

 

I missed a lot of stuff with Duran Duran and the tours supporting their albums, but I had a family now.  I had gone from the early 80s, where I spent every dime I earned on anything Duran Duran; magazines, buttons/badges, all the vinyl, shirts, hats, and miscellaneous stuff the merchandising team had pumped out, to buying things for our son and our family and had became addicted to Ebay and finding Duran things I had never seen before. 

Simon Le Bon and Warren Cuccurullo Duran Duran Live Pop Trash Tour Photo Michael Ebelshauser
Nick Rhodes Duran Duran Live 2000 Photo Michael Ebelshauser

Meet & Greet

 

The dawn of the Internet was a game changer that has just gotten better throughout my life. In 1997, I turned 30 and had a party at a club. We became fast friends with the DJ, who was doing a remote broadcast for a local St. Louis radio station that played 80s and 90s tunes.

 

It was this same DJ that got me 2 passes to the meet and greet before the Duran show in 2000. I had already stood in line at a grocery store to get two tickets to that show on the morning they went on sale. I wanted the best I could get and that turned out to be the second row, left side. 

 

Firstly, I had never met the band members before so that experience shot me up to cloud nine immediately. This particular show was at an amphitheatre, then called Riverport (and still is by St. Louisans of a certain age and older).  

Warren Cuccurullo Duran Duran Live 2000 Photo Michael Ebelshauser

Warren Has a Talent

 

When we went to our seats, I was excited yet a little confused to see Nick’s keyboards up front and on what is commonly referred to by Duran fans as ‘John’s side’ of the stage, on the left. The guitars were in the same spot as 1984.

 

I knew that Andy, Roger and John were no longer with Duran Duran.  In 2000, it was Nick, Simon, and Warren Cuccurullo, the guitarist that had been with the group since 1986. Warren has a talent with the guitar that Andy couldn’t touch. My husband, Don, held my album cover with two newly obtained autographs on it.

Warren and Nick Duran Duran Live 2000 Photo Michael Ebelshauser

An Intimate Performance

 

I proceeded to let go; sang, danced, and screamed to my heart’s content. The screams from the females had gotten older, meaning they weren’t high, piercing screams. But make no mistake, they were just as excited.

 

Sadly, this was still the time when cameras were not allowed so I don’t have pictures of Nick Rhodes right in front of me. Compared to the show in 1984, this was an intimate performance for me. Simon was not as active onstage, but he was more animated with his body language and facial expressions.

 

Warren stayed on his side, wandering over to Nick once in a while.  Nick stood there in a kind of psychedelic suit, doing what he does on the keyboards. 

Simon Le Bon Duran Duran Live 2000 Photo Michael Ebelshauser

A Dedicated Audience

 

There were designs flowing on a screen behind them, which was something new to me. The energy was different from my first show, 16 years earlier. They weren’t running back and forth and goofing around.  Simon made jokes and split his time right up front near us, going back and forth between Warren and Nick. This was a dedicated group performing for a dedicated audience.

 

With the exception of their 1993 album, known as The Wedding Album, Duran Duran was no longer as popular as they used to be. They never gave up and kept putting out albums. Preforming was something they loved to do, whether the crowd was big or small. 

"We were shaking with excitement at just seeing it!"

Singing and Dancing

 

After the show, I walked away, feeling like my feet were off the ground, my body still filled with excitement, my heart filled with love, my voice non-existent. My only comparison was 1984 so the entire dynamic of Duran Duran had changed by 2000. The passion was still there between the guys, but the energy wasn’t the same. They still had everyone on their feet, singing and dancing.  Maybe it was because we were all older.

No Strings Attached

 

In November of 2000, my parents gave my son tickets to see NSYNC on the No Strings Attached tour at the Kiel Center, a new venue. This was my son’s favourite group at the time.

 

I got elected to go with him, and our seats weren’t on floor level, but we were directly on the other side of the arena from the stage. The only reason I’m bringing this up is because once the show began, I had a major flashback to 1984 at the old venue right next door.

 

There were five good-looking guys performing onstage, video screens to see them up-close, and the screams. The high-pitched, piercing screams.  I smiled and tears filled my eyes as pictured myself at my first Duran concert. This was exactly what it was like back then. Deja vu, indeed!

Fab Five Back Together

 

I saw two shows during the next tour in 2005. The original members had reunited and put out another album. This alone made fans and media go nuts.  The old fans came back to see the old line-up. 

 

I saw them in Chicago in March and St. Louis in July. The Astronaut tour, or Reunion tour, as some call it.  I prefer the first as it was the name of the album, and while I was excited to see the Fab Five back together, I would soon find out in July that the reunion wasn’t the best I’ve seen of Duran Duran. In Chicago, it was at the Allstate Arena. Yes, Duran were filling arenas again!

 

Kirsten, my best friend, had surprised me with tickets to this show. She was home, visiting from Ireland where she was living at the time. 

Duran Duran Astronaut Tour Bus
Duran Duran Astronaut Tour Bus Photo: April Albrecht

Astronaut Tour Bus

 

We drove from St. Louis to Chicago, only to see the super cool custom painted Astronaut tour bus pull into a hotel. We were shaking with excitement at just seeing it!

 

The night of the show, March 18, we actually got to go up to the bus and had our pictures taken with it, being silly, yet feeling part of the group. We had nose-bleed seats, but who cared? We were at a Duran Duran concert! The stage set up reverted to the original positions of the members they had back in 1984.

 

This particular show did not have Andy Taylor in attendance as his dad’s health was failing. This was my first experience with Dom Brown as the guitarist. He did his homework, standing in firmly. 

John Taylor Anna Ross Duran Duran Live 2005

Light Bar

 

This was the first tour with Anna Ross on backing vocals. She has a powerful voice that complimented Simon. Circular light bars of various sizes were above the stage, making wild light shows as they moved and rotated.

 

Onstage, there were six video screen panels behind them on which different videos were shown to enhance the songs. The most memorable was during Careless Memories. A Japanese anime was shown on the panels, depicting Duran Duran as fighters against the big records label in gory fights, each member taking on the ‘bad guys’ in their own unique way. 

 

The energy level was off the charts! Even without Andy, the interactions, the passion, and the dedication transferred to us, the fans, even those of us in the nose-bleed seats. 

A Feeling of Nostalgia

 

This show just blew me away! Even as I saw my friend off to Ireland at O’Hare and drove back home the next day, I was still on a Duran high with no voice again. They amped up the stage from their last tour.

 

Five years earlier, it was a simple show with just three members. We were almost back to five.  I appreciated it more because I could absorb the dynamic energy that Duran put out. For me, this show changed in appearance and emotion.

 

It was a feeling of nostalgia that I could embrace and hold on to because the members of Duran gave it everything they got and more.

Nick Rhodes Duran Duran Live 2005 Photo Michael Ebelshauser

Thrill on Blueberry Hill

 

The next show on that tour for me was July 22, 2005 in St. Louis. I won two tickets to that show on a radio call-in contest. I also snagged two tickets to a special acoustic performance at The Duck Room, which was a very small, downstairs venue at Blueberry Hill.

 

Simon and Andy were the only two there and no cameras were allowed. They did three songs, answering questions and telling stories in between for the host, a DJ from a St. Louis radio station. This was broadcast as part of The River Lounge, a series of intimate, acoustic shows by various artists.

 

It was so special being on that chair in the front row by a small stage. Andy gave me a guitar pick when it was over. Talk about a precious souvenir! 

Duran Duran Live 2005 Photo Michael Ebelshauser

Reunion Andy

 

Later, at the venue, The Fox Theatre, the show was a smashing repeat of Chicago but with Andy back. It was then that I realised how different the three guitarists were.

 

I didn’t like the ‘reunion’ Andy. Some songs were ruined by him. To me, that changed the feeling of the show. I loved the other members, the crazy light circles, the video panels, the onstage engagement between everyone.

 

Honestly, I walked away more energetic at the Chicago show than the St. Louis show.  Sadly, that is the memory I carry with me as Duran Duran haven’t returned to St. Louis since then. 

andy taylor duran duran live 2005 photo Michael Ebelshauser
Simon Le Bon Duran Duran Live 2005 Photo Michael Ebelshauser

The shining spark that will remain is that Nick came into the waiting crowd at the stage entrance outside and signed as much as he could, as fast as he could, of the things that were thrust at him. He was the only member to do so.

"The energy level was crazy high!"

RCM Is a Unique Album

 

Three years later, I returned to Chicago to see Duran Duran during the Red Carpet Massacre (RCM) Tour on May 14, 2008 at the Rosemont Theatre.

 

By now, I was divorced, and my son and I moved back to where I grew up, starting life anew. I was only off work for two days, so I left in the morning to drive to Chicago. I got to my hotel with enough time to shower and get ready for the show.

 

The group line-up had now dropped to four members as Andy hadn’t join the others for making the new album. RCM is a unique album as it again, evolved in a new direction. Personally, I love the album. 

Close to the Stage

 

I parked at the venue, got some wine and some water after buying an RCM hoodie/jacket and a program. My seat was on Nick’s side, sixth row but the seating layout made me close to the stage.

 

I also now had my camera that was allowed with no issues! It was a comfort, knowing where the members of the group would be.

 

Dom Brown returned as their guitarist, and he did not disappoint.  This was the first time that Andy Hamilton did not tour with Duran Duran. He was replaced by Simon Willescroft.

 

There were video panels behind the guys with circular lights that moved up and down as needed as did the light bars. The fans were given a concert with an intermission. 

The Electro Set

 

I have tended to avoid all social media related to the tour prior to my show, so there were no spoilers. The intermission did surprise me. Duran Duran came out to do The Electro Set, each member standing in front of a podium with an electronic instrument.

 

There were Ds on the two end podiums – Nick and John’s. It was a first, and it was amazing! Something so different! After that, they finished off the concert on a true high.

 

I was part of a small group that met Nick and Simon after the show (Nick signed my copy of Interference), with my lost voice and ringing ears. I drove back to St. Louis the next day, still on a Duran buzz.

 

This was one of my favourite shows ever, as the energy level was crazy high! The guys were on top form and included something new with The Electro Set.

The Audience Was Revved Up!

 

The next album that came out was All You Need Is Now, so therefore, a new tour. This time, I decided to venture out of my touring comfort area, to see a different city.

 

I boarded a bus that eventually took me to Cleveland, where I saw Duran Duran perform at the State Theatre on Playhouse Square on October 19, 2011.

 

This album was different from RCM. It was produced by Mark Ronson, and he got the guys to re-visit their beginnings. I was in the third row, Nick’s side.

 

I made friends with the woman and her husband behind me. My first Duranie concert friend! This album had amped the fans up so the audience was revved up and ready to roll! 

Duran Duran Live 2012 Photo Michael Ebelshauser

Sheer Duran Magic

 

It was now solidified to four members of Duran Duran. The guys had brought back sheer, Duran magic. Before the show, you could get on Twitter and tweet a message, and if you were lucky, you could catch it on a video screen display.

 

Of course, I had to do write something and I saw my message up there as well! There were three video screens along the back.

 

They stepped up the accompanying video graphics to add more beauty to the show. For instance, during ‘Girl Panic!’, stills and action shots from the video were blended together. 

Duran Duran Live 2012 Photo Michael Ebelshauser

"My best friend and I made a Road Trip Out of It"

Duran Duran Live 2012 Photo Michael Ebelshauser

Lightning Bolt

 

The coolest addition to the stage for this tour were four video screens along the top of the stage in the shape of faces.

 

Several times throughout the concert, the still faces of Nick, Simon, Roger, and John, appeared on those screens, ‘singing’ along with the song or there were designs in them.

 

I couldn’t see them very well as they were almost directly above me. That was one thing I had to watch online from other people’s videos. Nick not only played his synthesizers, but he took pictures of the audience and fellow band mates.

 

Close to the end of the show, the video cameras reversed and showed the audience. I managed to get a shot with me in it! The passion, action, interaction, and energy were combining like a lightning bolt of magic that stayed with you long after the show ended.

 

I took a bus to Cincinatti to visit relatives and was still reeling from the night before. This show definitely took over as my favourite.

John Taylor Dom Brown Duran Duran Live Photo John Archbell

Zoomed In

 

I had to wait until 2016 before I saw them again: Austin in April, Nashville as well as Kansas City in July as I had decided to see more than one show on the Paper Gods tour.

 

I got two front row seats on Nick’s side in Austin for the April 22nd concert at the Austin360 Amphitheatre. My cousin lived there, so it was a time to see Joy, my only cousin that’s my age. This was a tour that was mainly amphitheatres. As I was flying into Austin, I looked out my window to see what looked like a race track.

 

I used my camera and zoomed in it to see it was the venue for the concert, in the middle of a race track! It was cool to see it from the air. 

Confetti Cannon Duran Duran Live Photo John Archbell

Confetti Cannons

 

Nile Rodgers and Chic were opening for Duran Duran, so we knew it was going to be a show that was a non-stop party. The album, Paper Gods, divided fans. Some songs were great, others were not. 

 

But the show Duran put on was energetic and full of fun. It was my first time in the front row and I felt so close to them as I took pictures, sang and danced with my cousin! This was the first time I had experienced confetti cannons.

 

Tons of confetti were blasted into the audience at a certain point during Pressure Off. It is now known as Magical Confetti amongst Duranies. Prince had died the day before. Duran had put up a purple curtain with his ‘sign’ and saying that the show was dedicated to Prince.

Duran Duran Live 2015 Photo John Archbell

Hold back the Rain!

 

Was it better than the All You Need Is Now tour? No. But when you still leave on a Duran high, it means it was a great show. Especially when you got to meet Nile Rodgers! I went to see them on July 6th at the Ascend Amphitheatre in Nashville. It was the same show as I saw in Austin, but I met more people that I was already friends with via mainly Facebook. A thunderstorm delayed the show, but I kept thinking “Hold Back the Rain!”  I was in the second row in the left center. The show was cut short by one song but that was understandable because of time constraints. A friend told me that I was on one of the side video screens briefly, and I managed to get Nick Rhodes’ set list.

Very Emotional

 

The final show of the tour was in Kansas City. This was a very emotional concert because Nick had left the tour for unknown reasons. Not wanting to cancel or postpone the tour, he had gotten MNDR to fill in for the remainder of the shows.

 

This show was free for me as I was supposed to be a guest of Nick Rhodes. My long-time friend, Kathy, joined me on the trek across the street via Amtrak.

 

The tickets were for seats in the seventh row. It was awesome to meet Roger, Simon, and John, however! This show was sombre for me, personally.

 

No offence to MNDR, who filled Nick’s shoes with ease, but it wasn’t the same without Nick. It didn’t feel complete to me. Despite the highs and lows of the three concerts, they still didn’t top AYNIN.

Duran Duran Live 2015 Photo John Archbell

Down to New Orleans

 

Normally I don’t go to shows that fall in between albums. But when I found out that Duran Duran were playing in New Orleans on my birthday, I just had to go.

 

Plus, it was a city I had never been to.  Duran Duran concert number 10 was on February 19, 2019. My best friend and I made a road trip out of it. It was cool that she was with me for that show as we had gone together 35 years ago for the first Duran show back in 1984.

 

This was my first GA show with Duran Duran. I had done several GA shows with my friend to see U2, and it was super organised.

 

After the cluster mess we went through, I have no desire to attend a Duran Duran GA show again. It was so disorganised and so unfair. That was the only downer to the show. 

Nick Rhodes Duran Duran Live 2015 Photo John Archbell

Andy in the Mix

 

The concert itself was very cool as they started with New Religion, a song I hadn’t heard live since 1984. Then the icing on the cake was The Seventh Stranger.

 

During this song, they flashed back to clips of them performing back in 1984, including Andy in the mix. It evoked an emotional response. 

 

Past and present. Then and now. It was my favourite show because I met all of them outside afterwards, and they signed my set list. Nick drew on my arm which became my next tattoo! 

 

Overall, it was a filler show, almost a greatest hits show. They were having fun performing. It’s what they love to do. The energy was there but it wasn’t spectacular. 

Duran Duran Live 2015 Photo John Archbell

The Love and Music

 

Emotionally, New Orleans was my favourite. For sheer passion, artistic input, creativity and magic, the winner of best concert tour goes to All You Need Is Now.

 

They channelled something into every second of the show. It was filled to the brim with audio and video pleasures. Nick, Simon, Roger and John felt comfortable with this album and the stage.

 

The energy radiated steadily out into the audience, filling us with the love and music that only Duran Duran can produce. Had I seen any of their shows between 1984 and 2000, my opinion may have been different. All the shows left me walking on air and voiceless, but each show was different with its energy, passion and how Duran Duran presented themselves to us.

 

Duran Duran has and always will be a dedicated group that perform for a dedicated audience.

Written by April Albrecht 

Photography by Michael Ebelshauser & John Archbell

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