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Preview: Apollo 11 Celebration Concert with Duran Duran

 
By on Tuesday, 9th July 2019 at 2:00 pm
 

Header photo of the Rocket Garden from the Kennedy Space Center; NB: TGTF returns for a short time this month for a preview of an upcoming unique event that has personal meaning to me.

Next Tuesday is a major anniversary for American space history and indeed, humanity itself. On July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 spacecraft launched into outer space from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and the world collectively held its breath.

In the Sixties, the Space Race was a real, wholly palpable, politically-driven contest between America and the then-U.S.S.R. to see whose spaceflight program would reign supreme. Following the Apollo 11 moon landing, the contest was over. The legacy of the Apollo 11 mission went far beyond its literal success. Sending a man to the moon had been seen as an impossibility. Once achieved, it has stood as an example of human ingenuity and an inspiration to all to that amazing things are possible if you never give up.

In 1981, a New Romantic band from Birmingham, England, released their debut single. Like the success of the Apollo 11 mission 12 years earlier that provided direct inspiration, ‘Planet Earth’ by Duran Duran was something special and like nothing that had come before it. Early music from the group was a blend of disaffected synthesizer notes and programmed beats, funky bass lines and drum beats reminscent of disco, and crashing guitar. The poetic lyrics of Simon LeBon brought everything together.

Duran Duran have reached legendary rock band status through their longevity – 40 years in the business and count ‘em, 14 studio albums and a 15th on the way – and yet their fascination with space has never really gone away. They even named their 2004 reunion album ‘Astronaut’. So who better that them to perform a late night (la la la ‘Late Bar’) show to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s launch? To call this is a once in a lifetime event is an understatement. Part of the proceeds of show ticket sales will benefit STEAM education programs of the non-profit Aldrin Family Foundation, supporting children’s education in science.

Duran Duran and NASA have a unique connection in my heart. My father was a physicist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center for most of his working life. As a college graduation present, he agreed to take me to Tokyo to see the ‘Pop Trash’ Duran Duran line-up perform there. What an experience to hear ‘Anyone Out There’, ‘Mars Meets Venus’, and ‘Last Day on Earth’ live and in another country! It was the first time I had been abroad to see a rock show. I haven’t stopped traveling for gigs since.

My late father’s colleagues told me that he had reached somewhat ‘rock star’ status himself there once it was learned he’d taken his daughter to see Duran Duran in a foreign country. After we returned from our trip, he excitedly forwarded me this internal memo reporting that Duran Duran’s ‘Hold Back the Rain’ was used as an encouraging wake-up call to the astronauts on space shuttle Atlantis returning home. I think it’s safe to say there must be more than a few NASA staff who are Duran Duran fans! Although I cannot attend, I hope some of these hard-working people get to attend this unique show under the stars. I know my father will be there. If you’re lucky enough to live close by or to travel for this event, you can attend, too!

Tickets to this special late-night Duran Duran show at the Rocket Garden of the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida, cost US$300.00. Get your tickets from the Kennedy Space Center’s official Web site here; note that the ticket price includes parking but does not include daytime admission to the center.

 

Live Review: Dawes with Caitlin Rose at Vinyl Music Hall, Pensacola, FL – 15th October 2013

 
By on Monday, 21st October 2013 at 2:00 pm
 

Last Tuesday night, Caitlin Rose (pictured above) played Vinyl Music Hall in Pensacola, Florida, opening for Los Angeles-based rock band Dawes.  I reviewed Rose’s second album ‘The Stand-In’ (read the review here), so I was excited when she announced that she would be playing a show in a venue local to me.  It’s a rare treat for me to be able to review an album and a live show for the same artist, and on the occasions when I have, there’s always been a plane ticket involved.  I first heard about the show via Rose’s Facebook announcement, and before I bought my ticket, I didn’t even realize that she wasn’t the headliner.

Rose’s live show didn’t disappoint, even though most of her audience at Vinyl were clearly impatient for Dawes to take the stage.  I may have been the only exception to that, not being a huge fan of Dawes myself.  Rose played a delightfully substantial opening set, including several songs from latest album ‘The Stand-In’, as well a couple of older numbers and a liberal smattering of covers, which she said onstage that she actually prefers to performing her own songs.  In particular, her cover of The National’s ‘Pink Rabbits’ has received significant attention, and for good reason.  (If you haven’t already heard it, you can check it out on YouTube here.)

The Pensacola crowd responded most appreciatively to ‘Waitin’’, which many of them had no doubt heard recently when it was featured on the popular ABC television show ‘Nashville’.  Rose referenced the ‘Nashville’ version somewhat ironically, noting that her live show contains none of the contrived stagecraft seen there.  Her smooth, straightforward vocal performance and the tight musicianship of her band allowed the songs to shine through on their own merits.

Rose’s sultry, bluesy style and edgy lyrics seemed at first to be at odds with the mellow folk rock sound of Dawes.  However, when Dawes took the stage to an enthusiastic audience response, it became clear that their live performance would be more appealing than their somewhat bland radio offerings.  Hit radio single ‘From a Window Seat’, which had never captured my attention before, was the sizzling highlight of the set.  Lead singer Taylor Goldsmith took the opportunity to show off his considerable improvisational skills on electric guitar, while his brother Griffin, on drums, all but upstaged Taylor with his passionate playing, comical facial contortions, and flawless vocal harmonies.

Even the slower and more pensive ‘A Little Bit of Everything’ benefitted from the band’s onstage energy, and I found myself singing along despite the egregious lyrics in its second verse.  I wasn’t familiar enough with the band’s back catalogue to identify all of their older tunes, but the crowd were clearly excited to hear them, especially ‘Fire Away’ and ‘When My Time Comes’.  Another recent radio hit (and my personal Dawes favourite) ‘Time Spent In Los Angeles’ was wisely saved for the encore, leaving me with the impression that maybe I’d dismissed this band prematurely.  Even if you’re not in love with their studio recordings, they’re worth seeing live, especially if they’re joined by quality opening acts like Caitlin Rose.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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