By Jennifer Miles Davis
‘No, thank you for asking, I can’t go to the Duran Duran concert. I’m stressed. I’m broke, and (sighs importantly) Way Too Busy for such extravagances. I was never really a Duranie and the O2 is miles away. And it’s on a Tuesday! I’ll pass, thank you.’ But then, there was a spare ticket needing an owner. I was in a nicer mood. Yes, sure, why not? I’ll take it.
We headed off early to take in the Elvis exhibition first. We thought we loved Elvis, until we met Beryl, a lady we got chatting to in the gift shop. She waggled her finger at us, accusing us of being too young to properly know him. She had real tears in her eyes at the memory of her seventeen-year-old self being so in love with Elvis back in the day. And that love is still there! For her, Elvis; for my friends, Duran Duran; for today’s teenagers, One Direction. Every generation has its crush, the person or band or lyric or guitar riff that spoke to us; that we just couldn’t help falling in love with.
Seal was Duran Duran’s support act. OMG swoon! His voice is deliciously velvety smooth and simultaneously rough and heartbreaking. But where has he been hiding? My latest song is about overcoming anxiety, he told us. Ah, ok. Even beautiful talented Seal has been dealing with some stuff. And look, he has overcome it.
I’m not a diehard Duranie but it turned out I knew all the songs. And Simon Le Bon can sing! The range of his voice is quite remarkable. Lovely John Taylor’s funky bass twanged out the inimitable Duran Duran sound and I was transported back to the eighties. We sang, we danced, we laughed. They snuck in some of their new tunes and we shuffled and sighed, waiting for Rio, or something. Even so, the crazy new technopop mixed with the comfortingly familiar Duran strains, alongside mesmerizing lighting and videos, sent me into a semi-trance. On one song my friend told me to listen with my eyes closed. It was beautiful. We got tearful on Save a Prayer, glancing round at an arena full of shiny phone torches (for Paris). The encore (finally!) was Rio.
Yes yes yes, that’s all very nice for you. But what’s your point? you may well ask. Well, at the risk of wheeling out the rather tiresome ‘life’s too short’ triteness, here’s the thing. The whole day was an awakening of the senses, of allowing ourselves to be swept away in visuals, feelings, music, icons and experiences, not to mention the gorgeously simple pleasure of just being with friends … and I almost missed it. Art, music, exhibitions, films, people – they make us feel, cry, smile, love, reminisce. Picasso said ‘The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls’.
Fellow midlifers, I know it’s a cliché, but we just don’t know what’s around the corner. However inviting our sofas and blankets and routines and job security and box sets are on these dark evenings, let’s not get too comfy. We must remember to punctuate life, and live! And feel! And go! And do! And occasionally be … just a little crazy. As the Duranie brothers say in What are the Chances?: ‘Any other day and you might have gone walking by/Without a second look … So, what are the chances?/We’ll never know/If we take it for granted …’
Jennifer Miles Davis is a writer and freelance copy-editor for organisations such as Cambridge University Press. For enquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org.