The Song Remains the Same
Leave reality behind and enter the world of tribute bands, a place where Lennon lives, Zep still jams and Duran Duran never left Rio.by Geoff Edgers
EGG fall winter 99/00
......There is, of course, an important difference: no room for improvisation. Tributes are supposed to remain true to the originals which means the right clothes, hair and between-song banter as well as the right chords. The look can sometimes prove the most difficult challenge in the band's development stage.
That's why it took Planet Earth, a Los Angeles- based Duran Duran tribute, almost a year to form. Jason Humphreys, a 28-year-old displaced Londoner and phone company account manager, started the band after winning \$50 singing "A View To A Kill" at a karaoke contest on Daytona Beach. Picking up the LA Weekly, he noticed that there were tributes everywhere, for Megadeth and Metallica, Poison and Ratt. None for Duran. He also knew there was a network of close to 300 Web sites devoted to the fluffy '80s quintet. Finding his John (bass) Taylor was relatively easy. Same for Andy (guitar) Taylor though Humphreys had to politely decline a fellow who weighed close to 200 pounds. (Andy's a pretty thin guy.) At that point, the trio began to struggle. It took more than six more months to bring on a keyboard player and drummer. "This guy called up and said, 'The only thing is I'm black,' " says Jason. "I told him we're not being racist or anything, but we can't really use you -- unless we're doing the Liberty album when they had Sterling Campbell, a black drummer."
They were a band; they weren't a tribute until they had scoured used clothing racks together. For his "Girls on Film"-era look, Humphreys found a khaki outfit with brass buttons, a white headband adorned by tassels and pointy black boots. He had a hair straightener put on because his hair's kind of wavy. And during the show, he does a costume change, returning with a fingerless glove just as in "The Reflex" video.
In addition to the nostalgic twinge, a tribute act can also break down the wall between the stage and fan. The star, after all, is a fan too. When Elise MacPherson and her boyfriend checked out 5150 last November, they didn't just get too hear "Poundcake" and "Why Can't This Be Love" they were invited back to lead singer Dave Russell's Christmas party. Duranophile Misty Snider, 27, a dental receptionist in Victorville, California, was able to develop an e-mail relationship with Jason Humphreys after discovering Planet Earth on the Internet. Knowing Snider was a rabid fan, Jason would ask her for advice.
"I think probably a bit more enthusiasm," says Snider, offering her critique of a recent show. "Simon Le Bon has that energy. Dance a little more and shake your butt more. That would even get a crowd that's not into Duran Duran moving."
(end of Planet Earth section)
And a short review on Planet Earth in the same issue:
Cover bands so good you'll spill your beer
>>PLANET EARTH (DURAN DURAN)
This Los Angeles Duran Duran tribute has the hair and pastels to help us remember when Simon, Nick and the Taylor boys ruled the charts--with a satin fist.
This is a review of the show played on October 29, 1999 at Hogie Barmichaels. By Rich Kane of OC Weekly.
"Welcome to tribute-band night at Hogue Barmichael's! WELCOME TO HELL!!! Granted, Hogue's is also one of those venues whose absence would make life here a lot less fun. But booked on this night (two spooky evenings before Halloween, which may have been the fiendish point) was this terrifying triple threat of tribute bands: homages to the Eagles, Pink Floyd and Duran Duran;yup, all on the same bill! Up first were Duran tribute band Planet Earth, who even dress up like their coyly androgynous foof-pop idols, though "Nick Rhodes" actually looked more like the Cure's Robert Smith, and "Simon LeBon" more closely resembled Pat Benatar (though he pouted much better). Just like the band they were aping, their set was all about satiating their front man's humongous ego, and Planet Earth were dead-on! This "Simon" quite masterfully exuded just the right amount of well-lubricated shoulder rolls and fey-but-not-too-fey body contortions, but his singing was way over the top---he especially enjoyed bringing his voice up to the highest octave possible for the opening "Hungry Like the Wolf" ("Mouth is ali-VUH!/Running like wi-NUH!"-or however their lyrics went), a successful attempt to suck as badly as the real Duran! He was at his cheesy best during the song intros, though: before "Hungry Like the Wolf," he asked, "Is anybody hungry?" Before "Girls on Film," it was "Where's that camera?!" And "My name is Bon-Simon LeBon"; before "A View to a Kill." Pretty much every hit you remember was tackled, with some inexplicable omissions (they played the completely dreadful "Union of the Snake," but not the merely tolerable "The Reflex"), but it didn't really matter-any day now, we expect to see the real Duran booked to play Hogue-s."
Well hey, according to this guy Planet Earth are a great resemblence to Duran Duran. Too bad he doesn't know good music when he hears it. :)