On Day 3, I raced to the fairgrounds mid-day to catch the effervescent songs of Ms. Ellie Goulding. A favorite of mine for a year or so, I’m thrilled she’s getting the attention she deserves here in the States. The British singer-songwriter is such a breath of fresh air, and perfectly cute. I was lucky to see her last year at Hiro Ballroom in New York. I loved her then, and I loved her at Coachella. She opened with “Under the Sheets,” and quickly plowed through all my favorite tracks off her debut album, Lights. We got a little “Your Biggest Mistake,” “Every Time You Go,” “Guns and Horses,” “Salt Skin” and the title track. Favorite moments were her cover of Sir Elton John’s “Your Song,” featured on the U.S. release of Lights, and “Animal,” not featured on her original album, but on the U.S. version. She closed with “Starry Eyed” and all of us Ellie fans up front got yellow star-shaped sunglasses to sport. Being the nice guy I am, I gave mine to a cute girl in the Heineken Beer Garden after the set who said her girlfriends got a pair and she didn’t. She looked at me with puppy dog eyes and argued “are you really going to wear those sunglasses.” Hilarious.
Finally, the time had come to get into position. At Coachella, there’s an interesting dance that takes place between sets. On stage, bands’ equipment is on wheels so crews can simply roll instruments off stage and roll the next act on. Set-up and break-down takes place in the wings. In front of the stage, crowds shift. You wait for the current band to end, and just as their fans are moving out, you pounce and get positioned for your band. My band this time? Duran Duran. I thought Death From Above 1979 would never end.
I’m 40 years old and I’ve never seen my childhood idols perform live. I actually maneuvered myself into a really great position close to the front, only to get hit on by a long-time Duran Duran groupie. A slightly weathered middle-aged woman and her teenage daughter started circling me like sharks. The mom slaps my back and told me my body’s slammin’. Ok, thanks! Turns out, her name is Blue (of course), she’s 36 (liar), and John Taylor’s ex-girlfriend. They allegedly dated for three years back in the band’s ’80s heyday. She said John’s body is more like a woman’s. Nick Rhodes is brilliant. And hearing Simon LeBon sing acapella in a bathroom is like a religious experience. Who am I to argue with all that? I’m running with it. And, I love the idea that a woman who actually dated John Taylor found me hot. I’ll take it.
As it turns out, most of the kids around us were also playing the positioning game. But they were in position for The Strokes who were up next. So, like Scissor Sisters at a Lady Gaga concert, the crowd wasn’t as into Duran Duran as much as Blue and I were. We didn’t care. We danced our asses off. They opened with “Planet Earth” and unleashed the hits with “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “Girls On Film” and “Notorious.” From records outside the ’80s, they played “Ordinary World” and “Sunrise,” which actually was one of the best moments of their set. So cool. Simon’s voice is still incredible, just like Blue said. Oh, Blue. Where are you?
No one knows this, but Duran Duran has a new record out. Produced by Mark Ronson, it’s a throw-back to their ’80s roots. “All You Need Is Now,” the title track, is also my mantra for 2011. They played “Girl Panic!” the best song off the new record and “Safe (In the Heat of the Moment).” Who do they bring out on stage to sing the girl part? Girl Panic! It’s Ana Matronic of the Scissor Sisters. Brilliant. I was dying. She was dying. “I am on stage with Duran Duran and I am FREAKING out” she admitted. They ended the night with a 007 homage featuring the sounds of Dame Shirley Bassey culminating with “A View to a Kill.” Remember the video to “The Chauffeur?” They played it while they sang it. It was so taboo and sexy back in the day. Finally, they ended with “Rio.” I’m dying to see my boys again soon. Full-length concert next please. Where was “The Reflex” and “Is There Something I Should Know?”
In the end, Blue turned to me and said, “you’re a tough nut to crack.” She has no idea. I thought how could she not know? She must not be that bright. Turns out, she’s a helluva lot smarter than me. As soon as Duran Duran finished, I was crushed (literally) as the kids stampeded the stage for The Strokes. It was a reminder that I’m 40 and probably should be sitting on a blanket at the back of the field. But never! Coachella was one of the coolest events I’ve been to in a long time and an unforgettable experience. So happy I’m on the mailing list because I’ll be first in line to buy tickets next year. I just hope the line-up is as amazing if not better than it was this year. Go!