Do you remember the eighties, asks Nick Rhodes. It’s pretty clear given the age profile of the crowd here, that everyone does. Duran Duran would have been important to many of us here, many years ago, as important as Top of the Pops was, and roller discos and emigration and all that stuff that we remember so fondly. Duran were the biggest, smoothest band on earth. Even Goths were allowed like ‘Save A Prayer’. It could be argued that after four years the ride was over, and the decent tracks they’ve released since them comprise the exceptions, rather than the rule. That’s not an argument you’re gonna have with Simon, John, Roger and Nick, however.
With ‘View To A Kill’ and ‘Planet Earth’ making early appearances, it augurs well, and perhaps they won’t play anything that came after 1987. But of course, Duran Duran are a going concern, proud of their new material as they are of their back catalogue. It can all be indulged, and after a few songs that people aren’t able to sing along to, yet performed with gusto, they offer us the occasional celebration of our collective youths. ‘Is There Something I Should Know’, ‘The Reflex’, ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’, ‘Notorious’. ‘Ordinary World’ was a song that undid much of the damage Duran had done to their own reputation with their late eighties, early nineties output, and here they give it an unfortunately syrupy bent, augmented with a little speech about how Simon misses his mate Michael Hutchence, and Amy Winehouse and Jimi, and Beethoven and Brendan Behan and Edith Sitwell and basically anyone who’s dead.
After ‘Tiger Tiger’, an instrumental number from Seven and the Ragged Tiger and the evening’s only curveball, Le Bon returns, rejuvenated, jumping off drum risers, throwing shapes. They launch into ‘White Lines’, a song about cocaine, from their occasionally ill-judged Thank You covers album. I’ve often wondered if they completely misinterpreted the track. While there’s no doubt that Duran take themselves very seriously, they’ve embraced the absurdity of what they do, back in the day the silk suits and ruffles were worn with a certain knowing canniness, and they’ve always known how to work a crowd.
Now, with leather, sequins, sparkles, tattoos and magnificent coiffure on display, it’s hard not to get taken in by the spectacular tastelessness of this kind of mega pop. Sure there’s at least half a dozen top songs that didn’t make the cut, and sure it sounded occasionally if Simon needed the help of the auto tune, and sure they miss Andy Taylor, but when they come back on for the encore and fly through ‘Wild Boys’, ‘Girls On Film’ and, the piece de resistance, ‘Rio’everyone is sated. And with recessions and immigration back in fashion, and Duran back in people’s heads, how long before the roller disco makes a come back? I for one wait on that with bated breath.
Photo: James Goulden.