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Dwanollah's Travel Diary, or, What I Did On My Summer Vacation, 2.0
PAGE NINE
June 2005

 

June 29, 2005

Dear Readers,

We’re in Reykjavík, Ìsland.

That’s ICELAND, y’all!

(I know I overuse the phrase, but it’s particularly applicable, so…) HOLY SHIT!

Iceland is... well, a long way from home. From anyplace, really. Sunset is around 11:30 PM, and sunrise at 2:30 AM, and it never gets actually dark. The hot water, piped in directly from hot springs, blasts out of the faucets at 80* or more and smells of sulfur. Heavy rain clouds hang constantly in the sky, chilly drizzle falls intermittently, and the wind is icy. No trees grow on the loamy hills, and cold deep blue lakes surround everything. Carpets of lavender flowers look like bruises on the expanses of grey-green grass. It’s stark, beautiful, and entirely different than anything we’ve experienced before. Heck, summer here is about 10* colder than winter in Los Angeles!

We’re staying in a residence apartment here, which is in some ways nicer than the usual hotels (fridge, microwave) and in some ways, more of a pain (the, um… “shoilet”). But because there’s some big surgeon convention going on here, and the first weekend in July is traditionally one of the biggest vacation weekends in Iceland, all the hotels – all, I think, four of them – were booked up.

We’re a short walk from the town center, and, as expected, the main area isn’t that big. Lots of suburbs, though, and everything here looks much more contemporary than I would’ve expected. Most of the restaurants and stores have the stereotypical IKEA-décor look to them… blond wood, contemporary lines, glass, minimalism. No Byzantine or Baroque here. But, to THTM’s eternal delight, and my eternal chagrin, the first restaurant we came to on our walk into town was… Mama’s Tacos.

*sobbing*

Of course, I have to expect that the Dorky Boy who has Quested for Mexican food in NYC, Chicago, New Orleans, Milwaukee, Key West, any number of small Midwestern towns, London, Florence, freakin’ AFRICA, as well as every city on our trip, will at some point on this stop try to convince me that trying an Icelandic version of a quesadilla is a really good idea. So far, I’ve managed to thwart his evil impulses; after the whole London Mexican Food debacle (*cough*), I put my foot down: NO MEXICAN FOOD IF WE ARE MORE THAN A 200 MILE RADIUS FROM THE MEXICAN BOARDER! Heck, I’ve turned up my nose at so-called Mexican food in San Francisco!

He, however, insists that “It might be good!”

So yes, the big point of contention in our marriage continues. Luckily, our residence has a set of dishes, so we can smash plates when we have one of our violent rows about it.

Tomorrow’s the Duran show – the first time they’ve played in Iceland! YAY!

*****

June 30, 2005

Dear Readers,

Perhaps it’s a good thing that daylight hangs constantly in the sky here, because it’s not like I can sleep or anything. I’m too wound up.

We just got back from the Duran show.

And.

The Meet &Greet!

We really had no expectations to interact with the Durans on the Chocolate Duran Tour. For all we joke about Stalking, we don’t follow them to their hotels, try to hang out at the bars or restaurants where they might be, or go to the radio stations they’re being interviewed. Being Doltish, I never know what to say to ‘em anyway, so why prolong their agony, and mine? Hence, I try to keep my personal Durinteractions select and few… quality, not quantity.

So when, on our trip to the local Internet café this morning, we got a brief and excited note from our friend who’s friends with John Taylor, advising us that she’d emailed him about our being in Iceland and following them around Europe for a month, we certainly weren’t going to count on anything. “Check will call, just in case!” she warned, even though she hadn’t yet heard back from him yet. Okay. No big. We bought two tickets for the show, and headed over to the venue, Egilshöll, at the appointed time. We waited in line for a while at the front doors, in the fine, icy drizzle, before THTM said “You know, I’m going to go check will call.”

Upon which he discovered that, yes, John Fucking Taylor had left us free passes to the show, wristbands to get us in early and right up front, and passes for the preshow Meet &Greet!

Hang on whilst two Durannies doingedy and squee a bit, willya?

Being me, natch, I was feeling a bit nervous while we waited for the appointed time to arrive, but, after we underwent the rigmarole of the Security Gauntlet that allowed us and the five other fans with M&G passes backstage, I’d calmed down and stopped mentally preparing things to say to My Boyfriend. They schlepped us thither and yon, until we ended up in a hallway, usual Cattle Call style, and I was expecting to be taken around a corner or something to an actual room, and was hanging at the back of the line when I hear THTM say brightly, “Hey! We know you!” and turn to see-

My Boyfriend and Johnny Fucking Taylor. Right there. In front of us.

Simon gave a little chorus of “Hallo, hallo, hallo,” with a small half-smile, clearly not into the whole Meeting and Greeting. (In fact, that was the only thing he said during the whole fifteen minute event, but more on that later.)

But Johnny? While fuzzy on the actual details (“You’re on your honeymoon, right?” *snapping fingers* Pretty lights, John! Lookit the pretty lights!), he still totally recognized us and knew us from the times before we'd seen hin with ____, and his face lit up in the most delightful, delighted grin. “Yeah, I just got ___’s email today. I’m so glad you guys could make it!”

We both thanked him for the passes, and I…? Happily chirped, “___ would kill me if I didn’t give you both big hugs from her.” So I did. I hugged My Boyfriend and John Fucking Taylor. Who both hugged me back. Because I could. I COULD FUCKING HUG THE DURANS!

*squee!*

Yeah, El Nob was in his “saving his voice” mood (“So!” I whispered to THTM, “Drunk or stoned?”) and didn’t say anything or talk to anyone (although he did smile when I mentioned ___’s name), but John stayed by and chatted with us for a few more minutes, asking what shows we’d been to, what we thought of this and that city (Prague, specifically), and how long we’d be in Reykjavík. “Have you heard of the Blue Lagoon?” he asked us. “Hell yes!” we chorused. “You HAVE to go to,” he said with another grin. “That’s where I spent the day!” “Well, if we HAVE to,” I joked back. Ah, yes. Trading sprightly quips with Johnny Fucking Taylor.

Nick was meandering by at this time, looking slightly confused and not-all-there as usual, but I still busted out a variation of “We came from Los Angeles for the show” and “___ from ___ would kill me if I didn’t give you a hug for her” and hugged Nick Rhodes. Because I could. And by this time, Roger and Andy were making their ways down the line, too, and Roger’d overheard “ Los Angeles” and “ Europe” and was all interested in our Stalking, too, so I hugged him and said it was good to see him again. Because I could hug Roger Taylor. He also stuck around and talked with us for several minutes, chatty as ever, asking what shows we’d been to and what cities we’d been to and all that, like he genuinely wanted to know. No, really! I asked him if they had any plans to come back to Hollywood. “The show at the Hollywood Bowl isn’t happening, is it?” I asked him. “No, that fell through,” Roger said. “I’m not sure when we’ll be back in LA. We’re getting tired! We need a break!” “Yeah, you guys’ve had a pretty busy couple of years,” I said. Fellas? If Roger Taylor feels like he needs a break, for the love of the Maker, GIVE ROGER TAYLOR A BREAK BEFORE THE PAXIL STOPS WORKING! (‘Sides, I’m still determined to win my bet with Parlance that Andy bails first.)

Bug was last in line, and as I was talking with Roger, I heard THTM DELIBERATELY LIE TO ANDY TAYLOR. THTM, who is a Warren Fan and was one of the first members of Privacy, happily said to The Bug, “Andy, it’s great to have you back.” Et tu, Brute? (Cyn? Time to excommunicate!)

Note: I did NOT hug Andy Taylor.

We talked with Bug for a few, and MAN, he looks bad. Runty, bad teeth, sallow skin, impenetrable “I’m Sensitive to Light” sunglasses. But he was totally nice and friendly and happy when we dorkily told him about meeting via a Duran fan club and our Month of Stalking, and we talked about the set list a bit and stuff like that.

So now? We have officially met all the Durans!

“Do you want a picture with Your Boyfriend?” THTM asked me. “I’d like to try,” I said, “but I’m not counting on it!” Love has not blinded me to the reality of My Boyfriends oft-nobbiness. Nevertheless, I tried to get Simon’s attention – he was being chatted up by a radio person – which resulted in some direct eye contact and half-smiles for a couple minutes (and tingly feelings in my special place!), but not much else. Then Dave C. spilt us up in two groups to take Group Pictures with the band. We waited for the second group, and, as we all got into formation, I…? Did something I’ve never done before.

I. Flirted. With. My. Boyfriend.

Before the brain had slipped into gear, I caught his eye again and grinned at him. “I’m gonna stand by My Boyfriend!” I whispered, with a little sly shoulder-bump, earning me another El Nob half-smile before he started preening and posing behind me.

Oh, he SO loves me.

Or something.

(Because clearly he’s been hittin’ the "Or Something" for most of the tour.)

“All right, guys, it’s time to go get dressed!” someone called. I thanked My Toolie Boyfriend, and then we said goodbye and thanks again to John, who shook our hands and said “Yeah! Of course! Enjoy the show!” and we were hastily shuffled out.

And giggling and squeeing commenced.

The show, too, was one of the best we’ve seen, and for the first time in a long time, we packed down in the throng standing in front of the stage. I think the crowd’s reaction surprised the band, and it was one of those wild, symbiotic energy-feed-fests. These Durans? Go to eleven. This was the first time Duran Duran played in Iceland, and there were people out in droves, THOUSANDS, easily the biggest crowd we’ve experienced thus far on our trip. And while no one seemed to know any new material other than “Reach Up for the Sunrise,” they sure as hell knew all the hits, and sang along lustily. At one point, during “Ordinary World,” THTM asked me “Do they have a backing track playing?” “No, that’s THE CROWD! Listen!” And it was like that through the whole show. Needless, the Audience Participation Version of “Save a Prayer” worked brilliantly here, and the huge smile of pure delight that broke out on John’s face when he heard it was awesome.

And, prolly because he was soooo happy to know I was in the audience, Nomis was back in full-on doingedy mode, flailing, posturing and aerobicizing for all he was worth. He did almost all his usual charades, too (except, thankfully, he seems to have abandoned “window” and “rooftop.” But “vacuum” had an extra flourish this time!); he seemed to get the “Come Undone” Finger Licking move confused with the Let the Birdie Fly Free move from “Ordinary World,” and, instead, Let the Finger Licking Fly Free rather than fondling his nipples like he was supposed to, darn it all. Andy kept disappearing – apparently to have someone hand him lighted fags – and missed the beginnings of two songs, but, when he was there, he sounded fine; he actually broke out with a really good bow chicka wah wah porn-sounding guitar on “Girls on Film,” and came as close to nailing the intro for “Ordinary World” as I’ve ever heard. Nick seemed to noodle around more than usual, and Roger sounded just plain brilliant tonight. But few things could compare to John playin’ that fuckin’ bass. At one point, during “Planet Earth,” I gasped to THTM “Look! John’s totally masturbating!” …because he was spankin’ and sex-facing in an orgiastic frenzy, front and center, while the audience went positively batshit crazy for him. (Birmie? They were TOTALLY having sex with us… and they KNEW it!)

Simon must’ve felt the vibes, too, because, especially during the first half of the show, it was Duck Season with a vengeance… needing only a “bobbly-bobbly-bobbly” sound effect to make it perfect. He had a few toolie moments, natch, because he is, after all, Nomis El Nob. His mic pack didn’t seem to be working properly, so he kept fidgeting and playing pocket-pool. He yipped and howled during “Hungry Like the Wolf” and was a bit off-time with his big run-and-jump at the end. But for the most part, he didn’t say anything too retarded. He intro’d “What Happens Tomorrow” by saying something about “it seemed like the whole west side of the world wanted to drop bombs on the east side” (which is an interesting perspective, and mirrors what we’ve been seeing/hearing re: the ‘Merkin “War on Terror” while we’ve been here, but I’ll get to that in another entry, because the estrogen is still flowing fast and furious!). And, when intro-ing the band, after a thunderous chorus of “Play that fuckin’ bass, John,” My Boyfriend crowd surfed, and then pulled a girl onstage to introduce him. “Can you introduce me in Icelandic? Will you say what a good singer I am? And how tall and handsome I am? And how good I dress?”

We’ve also finally had confirmation on something we always suspected, guys. When introducing Nick, Simon referred to him as “The Alien.”

AH HA!

No video at all this show, though, dang it.

The scary thing about this show was that a large portion of the audience was reliving the 80s, hardcore. Via their outfits. Which were usually attempting an 80s look with contemporary clothing, and just didn’t work. Numerous females had broken out their old hair crimpers, and there was more blue and green eyeliner than I’ve seen in once place outside of a drugstore Wet & Wild makeup display. But most who were tryin’ to rock the 80s gear just looked a hot mess.

The set list for Reykjavík was a bit different, and they did BOTH “Sound of Thunder” and “Tiger Tiger,” so, woot! “Wild Boys” is still fucking epic, and was again the highlight of the show. Who woulda thought that song would age so well? They also did one extra song in the encore; the bummer thing was, was when they came out, Simon said “Okay, you have a choice… you can hear ‘Come up and See Me (Make Me Smile)’ or ‘The Reflex’!” And THTM and I are shrieking “MAKE ME SMILE” because we’ve never heard them play that live, but of course, Simon continues “Did you say want to hear ‘The Reflex’? You fucking did!”

Dammit.

His “roundabout” spin still makes me giddy, though.

Anyway, the set list:

  • Reach Up for the Sunrise
  • Hungry Like the Wolf
  • Planet Earth
  • Union of the Snake
  • What Happens Tomorrow
  • Come Undone
  • Chains
  • Sound of Thunder/I Feel Love
  • AND !
  • Tiger Tiger
  • The Chauffeur
  • A View to a Kill
  • Ordinary World
  • Save a Prayer
  • Taste the Summer
  • Notorious/Take You Higher
  • Nice
  • Careless Memories
  • Wild Boys
  • The Reflex
  • Girls on Film/Groove is in the Heart
  • Rio

By the time the show ended at 11:30 (and yes, it was still light outside, as if it was only 7:00 PM in Southern California, not to mention raining and as cold as a SoCal winter), both me and THTM were soaked with sweat, hoarse, and limping. But especially, we were glowing and ecstatic, with the remains of our wristbands sticking to our wrists.

So yeah. A nice note to end the Duraning on, huh?

More after the Est Fest calms down…

Dwanollah


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