wed 22/05/2019

Duran Duran, Brighton Centre, Brighton | reviews, news & interviews

Duran Duran, Brighton Centre, Brighton

Duran Duran, Brighton Centre, Brighton

Eighties pop superstars prove good value

Duran Duran: enjoying their playboy status with a wry smile

It catches everyone out that Duran Duran’s version of the hip-hop classic “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)” comes off so well. Not just affable entertainment but actually fiercely funky, raising a large section of the Brighton Centre to its feet. Duran’s 1995 covers album Thank You – from which the song comes - was once voted by Q magazine as the worst album ever, but looking around at the enthused reaction, including my own, that all seems rather irrelevant. Midway through their set, Duran Duran are a persuasive force.

The four Durans – Nick Rhodes (keys), Simon Le Bon (vocals), John Taylor (bass) and Roger Taylor (drums) – seem excited and on form. Last time I saw them they were playing to crowds of primarily female office parties at the Olympia a few Christmases ago. The sound was stodgy, the atmosphere lank and the band emanated dutiful slog rather than thrills. Now, assisted in the studio by producer Mark Ronson, they have their most zesty album in a couple of decades in the bag, All You Need is Now, fizzing with the insouciant pop-funk of their most famous Eighties material. It seems to have given them chutzpah and they dip into it extensively. Even when you wish they wouldn’t it’s hard to quibble as it’s also given them performance oomph.

They broke America, did a Bond theme and made multimillions, conquering MTV utterly

As ever, they look svelte. John Taylor refuses to lose his hair, Le Bon has a stubbly beard and less fat than he had in 1983, and Nick Rhodes is Dorian Gray. The first big old number is “Planet Earth”, an early hit, decisive in their rise. Make no mistake, Duran Duran were utterly massive in their day. They somehow combined Eighties aspiration, all Gordon Gekko slickness, chrome and yachts, into an unlikely gumbo of lipstick, hairspray and preposterous posing that teenage girls found sexually irresistible. They broke America, did a Bond theme and made multimillions, conquering MTV utterly, year after year.

For someone of my generation, teenage in the Eighties, it’s impossible to absorb their music without a reflex (flec-flec-flex) psychological twinge, for they were the wet girly pin-ups of that era, the Bros, Take That, JLS et al. The difference between Duran and those bands is that they weren’t just dancing puppets, they rose from a Bowie-obsessed scene at the Rum Runner Club in Birmingham and they also played their instruments. They were born of post-punk pop-cultural shifts but, while they sometimes looked the part, they weren’t an electropop act in the vein of, say, Depeche Mode. Instead they combined the sounds of Chic and Roxy Music with their own peacock pop sensibility. They were New Romantic - whatever that meant.

 

Above the stage there are four giant heads, plain white before the gig, but filled with projections of their singing faces, oddly warped, during a performance of their new album’s title track. The crowd, primarily fans of yore, but a healthy mix of male and female, seem ripe for everything. Nick Rhodes, Duran’s permanent mainstay, makes his only remark of the gig early, something about not being a Luddite. There’s no time to consider this matter before “The Reflex” hits and every female in the place is jumping – and quite a few men, too. This is swiftly followed by “The Man Who Stole a Leopard”, based on the allegedly true saga of a New Jersey man arrested for keeping a leopard in his apartment. Much to my surprise it’s one of my favourite songs of 2011. It’s a ringer for Duran’s icy early classic "The Chauffeur”, but not to the extent that you can’t enjoy it for what it is.

Simon Le Bon delivers an unlikely and relatively lengthy aside about the public sector workers’ strike

Duran now apparently have an obsession with tweeting which I’m not so sure about. Fan tweets roll across a big screen at points throughout the gig. John Taylor, once the ultimate ladies’ man, announces that he’s a Twitterholic. Is that a cool thing to say or be? Twitter, as gardening and Jamie Oliver have both been, is touted as rock’n’roll in certain quarters but…

At about this point, give or take, Simon Le Bon delivers an unlikely and relatively lengthy aside about the public sector workers’ strike, which was on the day of the gig. Just as I’m thinking, parties not politics for you, Duran, they slip into “Ordinary World”, a contagiously maudlin mope about coming back down to earth with a bump, ostensibly after a love affair but, written in 1993, it sounds more like the elegantly faded pining of a band for their glory years (“What has happened to it all?... Where is the life that I recognise?”). Just in case we take it too seriously, Le Bon and John Taylor camp it up to the max towards its conclusion.

The seated venue is offered an opportunity to let rip with “Notorious”, wherein 1986 Duran worked with Nile Rodgers to grab the Chic spirit. The bearded Le Bon introduces all his players, starting with the backing singers and sax. Afterwards he asks a woman from the audience to introduce him but she’s too overwhelmed or wasted to do so. He turns to her neighbour who screams, “IT’S SIMON FUCKING LE BON!” Their reward is “Wild Boys”, ostensibly based on William Burroughs, but actually a super-Eighties, super-percussive big-hair tune. To emphasise this, Duran fuse it with a version of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax”. The final song of the night is “Rio”. It had to be and it’s lethal. Back in the day it had weird resonances as an alt-Thatcherite anthem, due mostly to the opulent video, but now it’s simply a massive singalong pop song, and its writers revel in it. After a gig such as this, even those whose gag reflex is set high might have to admit that Duran Duran have a few golden pop nuggets in their back catalogue.

Watch the video for "The Man Who Stole a Leopard"

As ever, they look svelte. John Taylor refuses to lose his hair, Le Bon has a stubbly beard and less fat than in 1983, and Nick Rhodes is Dorian Gray

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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Comments

absolutely enjoyable reading :) Thanks to the writer, I´ll pass this on

Lovely, lovely review. I'm glad it was so positive, because I saw them in concert in the US recently and they kicked ass. Just an FYI - 1)Ordinary World was written about the death of a close friend-LeBon wrote 3 songs over the years about dealing with that same friend's death. 2)Thank You-the tribute album from which White Lines came-was released in 1995, not 2006. I've always loved White Lines, too. :) 3)The Man Who Stole a Leopard is not based on a real true story, it's a "fake" true story. AND much as I do love these guys - John does have less hair now than he did in 1983(check out the back under the puffy bit, still more enough though), Simon does weigh more than he did in 1983(still sexy though) and if Nick has a Dorian Gray deal, he needs to get his money back(still looks great though). :) They all look great as they are now. :)

Couldn't agree more with your comments, teenagegirl ;-)

Ooh , too much reverb!! Probably a better studio song. That was painful and I love this song normally.

It's probably just the recording, sometimes things sound good in person but sound bad on a video. There are some great vids of this song out there with good sound.

I was there in 1981at the dome in Brighton, when they started their first headline tour and I was at Brighton last night. Like a fine wine they get better with age. The highlight of the concert for me was 'come undo' which is my favorite Duran song. They are definately my alltime favourite band - thanks for a great evening guys Ps Check out cock&bull kid - she was good

Great Gig, a few new songs but played most of their classics. Would have liked Save a Prayer, New Moon on Monday and Union of the Snake but you can't have everything. come Undone was his only poor vocal of the night and I still loved every minute. Thanks for the memories!!!

I was at the gig in Brighton, and it was absolutely fantastic. I absolutely love all the songs on the new album, especially The Man who stole a Leopard - it's so Duran! The new and old songs all sounded fantastic, and I was nearly hoarse by the end from singing along. To be this good after 30 years makes me glad I was born in the 70's! Don't think the poor kids of today will ever have the long-term love affair with their idols like we all have.

Duran Duran are icons...will always be HIP and "HOT!"

I was there too and I loved it! Thank you, Duran Duran, fot nearly 30 years of joy! Herman Mulier, Brugge, Belgium

Up to a point it was a nice listening, meddled with a few new attempts to sell a not very promising new album. I think the most of us had come to get a feel for the past, but fair enough. Amasingly, twittering while band playing elevator music to give Le Bon time to change shirt is something unexpected. Then, astonishingly things changed. First Le Bon made a very tragic announcement of a new song to celebrate brits being drunk on package holidays. Something which is the worst trait that Brits are fighting to contain and added that he thought it was a great thing. Then Le Bon made a total ass of himself by venturing into a talk about how much he cared about the UK and the strike in a way that did not leave much for the people in power. His solution? He was going to help by writing a little song... Making another million while people fight for their jobs, trying not to end up like many in the streets? What a hero. We thought the man was a complete idiot and left the venue. Clearly, Le Bon should sing and not engage into talks that show that he likes to mock not only the british people but that he do no mind making an extra million doing so. Never spending money on that loosing band again. Sadly led by a complete ignorant.

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