Duran Duran at the Arena
review: Zannah Ingraham
venue: The Arena
date: Sat 17 Apr
The arena is dark, the crowd is poised in anticipation... Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, Andy, Roger and John Taylor take to the stage and in the blink of a Quantum Leap eye we're transported back to 1982.
With quiffs, guitars, suits and even the odd white jacket in tow, the original line up graced the stage with relentless energy. As Le Bon lunged towards the crowd with Sunrise, it was if time had stood still. While their teenage fans may have become thirty year olds, there's something about the Simon Le Bon t-shirts and yellow stilettos that make it clear the Durannies live on.
From the Bowie drenched This is Planet Earth to the metronome punch of The Chauffeur, the hits pulsed on to the fitting backdrop of Warhol inspired graphics. Squeezing a little new material in between the favourites, the band impressed the crowd with the politically positive What Happens Tomorrow.
In a moment of quiet before the storm, Le Bon delivered the raw emotional vocals of Ordinary World as Andy Taylor's searing guitar cut through the air with perfect clarity. Following on, to a starlit backdrop of mobile phones and lighters, the absorbing harmonies of Save A Prayer swept through the stadium with mystical familiarity, proving once and for all why Duran Duran have become not just synonymous with the 80s but also so ingrained in the soundtrack of British musical history.
With veteran expertise they freewheeled into another string of hits with the funky James Brown rhythm of Notorious. Breaking open the classic midway through with Sister Sledge's We Are Family, Le Bon brought the few fans left seated to their feet with his funky soul vocals.
With no time to breathe and with Andy and John jutting out into the crowd on the sides of the stage the band proved they can still set hearts swooning with the electric punch of Reflex. Finishing with the testosterone pumped Wild Boys, Duran Duran wound up a performance that left the audience feeling privileged to have been present.
With strobing camera flashes and shutter sounds the canonic chorus of Girls on Film pulsated throughout the arena causing impromptu air guitar to ripple through the fans in an encore to remember.
As the night drew to an end with the harmonic delights of Rio, you couldn't help but wonder if there are a new generation of Durannies out there waiting to be swept off their feet by the band. But the simple fact is Duran Duran don't need new fans or a second rate comeback to prove their success. The sight of 15 thousand Durannies singing, dancing and throwing their bras high in air to Rio twenty two years after its original release is testament enough to Duran Duran's place in musical history, past and present.