Duran Duran - Live From London (Coming Home Studios)
UK release date: 7 November 2005
Earlier this year there was a reality TV show called Hit Me Baby One More Time. The premise was that each week mainly has-been '80s pop artists would show up, sing a couple of tunes and the public would ring in to vote for the winner. After a few weeks this culminated in a grand final and in the UK the, ahem, "discerning" public decided that Welsh Elvis Shakin' Stevens had the X-Factor (or should that be Ex-Factor?). Oh dear.
Watching this DVD, you're reminded of all the reasons that you'll never see Duran Duran on such a "Where are they now?" retrospective.
Firstly there are the songs. How many bands, like ever, have written and released so many classics? And we're not talking novelty-style Green Door-s a la Shaky, we're talking credible songs that take in a myriad of styles, whether it be the new romanticism of Planet Earth; the extravagant sunny pop of Rio; the uncompromising tribalism of Wild Boys; the cinematic A View To A Kill; the funk of Notorious; the stadium balladry of Ordinary World; or the uplifting indie-rock of What Happens Tomorrow.
Of course, having the songs is one thing, but being able to perform them and put on a show is another.
Again, not a problem. Simon Le Bon & co don't bother with costume changes and choreography - they are a real band, after all, and the need for such things indubitably implies that there lies beneath dodgy music that needs distracting from.
Instead, they put on a high-octane concert with plenty of energy, cool lighting rigs and cutting edge visuals such as a Japanese Duran Duran anime/manga film that is broadcast during Careless Memories.
If it's not enough that the two-hour live recording captures the spirit of last year's triumphant arena tour as well as a DVD watched in your living room can, then there are plenty of accompaniments to reinforce the Nick Rhodes' statement that "presentation has always been very important to us".
In the "deluxe" DVD package, for instance, there's a bonus 10-track live CD; a 12-page booklet; a slide show with over six minutes' worth of photos; and a set of 3D glasses that can be used to watch the band coming out of your TV screen while playing I Don't Want Your Love.
And that's not all. There is also a half-hour documentary with band interviews on the rise, fall and rise again of Duran Duran, plus each band member does a commentary over two of the songs.
Even for the casual observer these extras are fascinating as we discover that the band was falling apart by the time of their 1985 Live Aid performance with "John and I snorting half of Peru at the time" (Andy Taylor); that the legs on the big screens as A View To A Kill is played are, in fact, Liz Hurley's; that Ordinary World, the song that "kept the band alive in the '90s", was written about a friend of Le Bon's who died of a heroin overdose; and we are generally reminded that Duran Duran were innovators in their use of video and electronica (The Chauffeur).
Based on what's presented here, it's hard not to see Duran Duran ending up as The Rolling Stones of pop - only less wrinkly and with better songs. One thing's for sure - there's little not to like in this DVD package and 2005 Christmas present buying just got considerably easier.
- Vik Bansal