Gig Review: Duran Duran at O2 Academy Birmingham, 14th September 2021

It’s been two and a half years since I last did a gig review on here! I’m a bit out of the habit…

Like many other things in my life post-pandemic, going to gigs is not as frequent an occurrence as it used to be. I like my evenings at home on my sofa and it has to be something special for me to buy tickets these days. However, I have been to a few since the world started returning to normal (nine, by my calculations) and have one or two lined up for the future. It’s probably time I start catching up with some reviews again.

It was, of course, highly appropriate that my first post-pandemic gig back was my first time getting to see Duran Duran. They’ve been my favourite band for years now but for various reasons I just hadn’t had the chance to see them. When a couple of surprise dates were announced in September 2021, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

I reviewed this gig for both Daily Duranie and Cherry Lipstick at the time, so my much fresher thoughts are out there already and I won’t repeat those. Really it’s just nice to look back, in hindsight, at a really special experience – the suddenness of the announcement, heading down to Birmingham for the evening, the incredible atmosphere at the O2 Academy (a much smaller venue than the arenas Duran usually play) and the overwhelming feeling of experiencing something for which I’d waited a long time. Not to mention excitedly livetweeting the gig (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here) 😀

Duran Duran

Now, for the first time in nearly four years, I shall update my Band Aid baby bucket list:

Updated Band Aid baby bucket list progress: song artists 11/37 (29.7%); message artists 2/7 (28.6%); total artists 13/44 (29.5%).

Evening out

Going ‘out’ out tonight! That’s exciting. I’ve got tickets for a gig, but it doesn’t start till later so Geth and I are going for a meal first.

It’s got to the point that I have no idea how to dress for anything that isn’t running or lounging around the house. I should probably have a think about that sort of thing in the run-up to Christmas.

And sleep

Very tired tonight after travelling home! I had a lovely time at the gig yesterday (though it was far too hot to go and see most of the bands – I sat in the shade under a tree instead).

More dashing about later in the week but a nice quiet day tomorrow.

Sunhat time

Just a quick post today before heading out. It’s still crazy hot here in London so I’ll be drinking lots of water and sticking to the shade most of the afternoon once I get to the venue. Not going too early either as the support bands I’m interested in don’t start till about 6pm!

Off adventuring again

I’ve got another outdoor Duran Duran gig to attend this weekend so I’m off down to London tomorrow (timing could have been better, looks like it’s going to be impossibly hot down there) while Geth holds the fort at home. This will be the very last of my pandemic-postponed events (not counting the two that never got rescheduled – I’m still holding out hope for them but it’s looking unlikely now!).

Once I was finally able to break free of the endless news-watching trap in which I had become entangled due to this week’s events, I had a really good go at Bravely Default II yesterday. I got the game when it came out in February 2021 and have been playing it on and off for over a year, but hadn’t actually opened it up since last October – I’ve been far too busy with other things since then! Hopefully this summer I will actually finish it.

Big weekend begins

Surrounded by stuff at the moment because it’s not possible to pack light for a marathon. I still haven’t made final decisions about various bits of race kit. Need to cover every option just in case.

Another concert tonight! I would not normally attend a gig the same weekend as running a marathon, but this is one of those postponed-from-2020 concerts so it couldn’t be helped. I am quite looking forward to it. And also glad that it’s one of those ones where we’ll be sitting down.

So close to the race now!

Counting down the days

Still trucking on with game-making and short runs, still going well. Been practising marathon pace and it feels nice and manageably slow. Looking forward to getting on with it and getting these nerves out of the way – the nerves are absolutely the worst part of the taper.

Booked some travel logistics for a gig in July today – nice to get some summer plans nailed down seeing as the year is barrelling along.

Poking my head out

It was a nice change of pace to be out for a concert last night. I was in my favourite row at the Sage Gateshead (the raised row behind the mixing desk where you can still see the stage properly when sat down, even if everybody in front of you is standing up) and I enjoyed the show. These things will remain few and far between for me, though, as I still have quite a lot of post-pandemic anxiety about going out in the evenings. I’ll review the gig eventually when I’ve caught up with my backlog.

Nice quiet day today – mainly dozing on the sofa.

Trying to weekend

I’ve not been good at weekending recently. I don’t do day job work on the weekends (unless a client has an urgent job for which they’re willing to pay express rate), but over the last couple of months I have been working on my games at weekends, which means I’ve not really been giving my brain a break. I hit all my game-making goals this week and am well on target, so I’m taking a break from that over the weekend. I’m quite looking forward to some downtime.

I’m in two minds about parkrunning tomorrow. Geth is having a week off from volunteering so if I did go, it’d just be me. It might be nice to have a Saturday lie-in for once. I’ll make a decision about that tomorrow morning.

Then I’ve got an actual concert in the evening! First of the year (but not the last as I have several originally-2020 gigs coming up this summer). Again, it’s just me as Geth chose not to come to this one, but I’m looking forward to it – it’ll be great to tick Paul Young off my Band Aid Baby bucket list (which I still need to update following a Duran Duran gig last year) and I enjoyed Go West last time I saw them.

Sunday will be really quiet and thus brilliant in a different way.

Goodbye 2021…

I always intend to post lots of blogs at the end of the year with lots of big lists of all the things I did and the media I consumed and my highlights… but December is always so insanely busy I never get round to it. Maybe in 2022 I will write them as I go along haha! It’ll just have to be one megapost this year…

This year’s big resolution was to sort the house out. I did not do that and now it is one of 2022’s big resolutions. Other things have just taken more priority.

Business exploded in a good way this year, which means that I’m now working a lot more hours. It’s taking a while to adjust my life to this, and I’m beginning to realise that I can no longer just plan a trip away midweek on the assumption that I won’t have much work to squeeze in. 2022 will be a lot stricter in this regard.

I continued writing and coding text adventures and being involved in the wider interactive fiction community, and managed to release four games for various competitions. My highlights were winning the Scott’s Choice Award from legendary text adventure game creator Scott Adams for Barry Basic and the Quick Escape, and winning PunyJam #2 with Morris, my first ever PunyInform release. I also enjoyed making a short game for ParserComp based on photos of the beautiful area around Causey Arch after visiting it with Mum and Dad, and my first ever attempt at speed IF for EctoComp!

Since October I’ve also been very busy with studying for the TechUP Software Development course. I have learnt a lot of Python and other very interesting things that I will be taking forward as my career gradually transitions more towards tech. (The Python knowledge will also enable me to do some very fun stuff with my game development!)

Running has continued on a more positive trajectory this year, with races and parkruns returning. I am nowhere near as fit as I was in March 2020 when everything shut down, but I have still managed two important PBs in 2021 – I took nearly five minutes off my 10k PB at the Sunderland 10k, and more than 45 minutes off my marathon PB at the London Marathon. I have also completed the second year of my daily run streak today and am hugely proud of that, as it’s been very difficult at times. Finally, parkrun-wise I have visited two new-to-me parkruns (Girvan Prom and Southwark) and earned my V25 t-shirt with my 25th volunteer stint!

As usual, I didn’t listen to much new music, but I absolutely loved the long-awaited new Duran Duran album Future Past, and I was over the moon at finally being able to see them live in Birmingham in September. Geth and I then saw Andy Taylor the very next night back home in Newcastle, and we had a great time seeing Soft Cell in Leeds in November. Lots more COVID-postponed gigs to come in 2022 (and some reviews of the ones I’ve recently attended!).

I watched pretty much zero new TV shows and films this year, though there were a few I added to my ‘buy the BluRay at some point’ list. I did record a lot of stuff on my digibox though! Geth has watched thousands of hours of YouTube channels about gaming and running, and I’ve enjoyed those by virtue of being in the same room. I did enjoy the Strictly series in the autumn, as ever.

I didn’t manage to find nearly as much time for videogaming this year as I would have liked, but there have still been a good few games to enjoy. In addition to playing all the other text adventure games in the jams and competitions I entered (see above – and also finishing off the Adventuron Christmas jam games from last year in January!), I finished Bravely Second in time for the much-anticipated Bravely Default II coming out, played Bravely Default II on and off from February but have still not made much headway ten months later, played the interesting demo of Project Triangle Strategy (set for full release on Switch in 2022 as just Triangle Strategy), finished Final Fantasy I (finally! I will be moving onto FFII for 2022), got very freaked out by Return of the Obra Dinn, got most of the way through The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, played about ten minutes of Pikmin Bloom before deciding it wasn’t for me, enjoyed a couple of old ’90s platformers for Christmas that I’ve loved since childhood, started Braid again (will actually finish it this time!), continued enjoying the lovely meditative filler game Link-A-Pix Colour, and COMPLETED EVERY SINGLE DEMO ON THE NINTENDO 3DS ESHOP (a project I’ve been working on for years). Watch out for next year, when I will be putting some serious effort into finding a lot more time for games!

I have lots of plans and resolutions for 2022, but I’ll talk about those tomorrow…

Winter nails
Snowflake leggings and new silver nails – all ready for New Year.

I’ll do a separate earworm playlist post soon…. maybe (I’m considering starting to log that separately from the blog and doing a yearly chart instead). So far it’s three weeks’ worth of Christmas music and Disney/Pixar soundtracks. I must admit I am looking forward to listening to something else in January in order to clear it all from my brain.