by Nicole Crews
Mom: I can’t believe we took you to Elvis as a first concert and then you shifted to Duran Duran.
Me: Well, there are certain parallels — a fondness for scarves… sequins.
Mom: All I know is that you girls were obsessed.
Me: We were Eurotrash girls in a Southern world.
When I turned sweet 16, a group of boys in my class pitched in their collective allowances to buy me a 12-foot pink snake with blinky, Betty Boop peepers and more glitter than Elvis’s white jumpsuit.
Normally, I’m not a state-fair stuffed-animal nor a My Little Pony kind of a girl — but the Duran Duran album Union of the Snake had recently debuted and I, along with a troika of teen queens, was a fan in the most fanatical sense.
Whether these boys were referencing the album or just being gross in the ways that 16-year-old boys are lasciviously gross, I don’t remember. What I do remember is when the tour rolled around to the Greensboro Coliseum my girlfriends and I had front-row tickets (thanks to a hook up at Peaches), new outfits from Merchant and Foxy Fashion and a 12-foot snake in tow.
Security Guard: You girls know you can’t take that in here.
Me: Oh come on! We have front row tickets and we are going to give it to the band!
Security Guard: I’ll tell you what I can do. I can take it backstage and give it to the band.
Me: Yeah, sure you will. It’s gonna wind up in the passenger seat of your rent-a-cop golf cart and make its way to your toddler’s room.
With a collective sigh, we girlfriend-nodded and agreed with this proposition. The show was about to start and we had lip gloss to apply. The concert was epic. We were screech tired and high-heel weary and forgot all about the snake when the show ended. The band left the stage and when they returned for the encore — lo and behold! — they were carrying the snake above their glamrock coiffed noggins and singing “Union of the Snake.”
Fast-forward 30 years to Sept. 10, 2014, when 300 theaters across the US hosted a David Lynch-directed one-night stand with Duran Duran. Filmed in 2011 at the Mayan Theatre in LA during the band’s All You Need is Now tour, Lynch took two hours of footage — a 19-song set — and edited the bejesus out of it: Lynchy layers of madness interspersed with menopausal moans and geriatric groans from the Mayan’s audience. The band’s core members themselves — Simon LeBon, Nick Rhodes, Roger Taylor and John Taylor —are not a boy band anymore (if they ever were) and even though sequins have a shelf life, they seem to have held up fairly well — Though Nick’s undertaker visage is a bit more realistically macabre and Roger looks a lot like a former coke dealer I used to know who now day-drinks at Fishers and does light construction.
The band/director pairing might seem a bit odd on the surface, but Lynch owes a lot to the ’80s as his visual formative years, the early days of MTV (featuring punks who had showered recently) and oddball storytelling. What’s even more disturbing though are the other artist/director pairings in this American Express series — Pharrel with Spike Lee, the Killers with Werner Herzog and Maroon 5 with Gary Oldman!
Joining Duran Duran on stage were Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance, Betty Ditto from the Gossip, Kelis and longtime collaborator Mark Ronson. Was an air of modernity and relevance achieved? I’m still not sure. All I know is, Lynch should have resurrected the snake.