Party boys who want to save the world

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Party boys who want to save the world
(Filed: 23/12/2005)
Joe Muggs reviews Duran Duran at Earls Court

After the various fallings-out and therapy sessions requisite for a band of their huge stature, Duran Duran have returned in their classic mid-'80s line-up. Typically, their approach to the "nostalgia tour" is done on a more spectacular scale than any of their contemporaries. Though the huge arena of Earls Court took a while to fill up (presumably most of the fans had babysitters to arrange), it was eventually packed to the rafters, and crackled with the charged atmosphere you'd expect at a McFly concert.

The band's entrance epitomised their approach: The Robots by Kraftwerk played over the soundsystem, then with a squeal of synthesizers, a quintet of screens slid on to the stage and lit up with larger-than-life film of each band member in their Armani suits, grinning and mugging for the audience. Thus Kraftwerk's wry comment on the production-line nature of pop culture was transformed into a gesture of pure showbiz - and it worked.

The real band members stepped from behind the screens and struck up Friends of Mine, and the audience danced like it was 1981, singing along to every word. Planet Earth boosted the energy further, and the party was unstoppable from there on in.

Singer Simon Le Bon is the ultimate showman, unashamed to introduce songs with lines so gauche - such as: "This is for everyone who's lonely sometimes, and for the peacemakers" before a brilliant Ordinary World - that they take on a surreal kind of poetry.

Come Undone was earnestly dedicated to showbiz chums Elton John and David Furnish, and a cover of John Lennon's Instant Karma (the fuzzy, druggy original turned into a glossy, motivational anthem) was prefaced with big statements about the need to "save people around the world".

Early hits such as The Reflex, with its groove written by disco gods Chic, and Hold Back the Rain, its rippling synthesizers reminiscent of Donna Summer's I Feel Love, showed how perfectly Duran had fused the cool of disco with rock guitars big enough to please middle America, and still sounded huge enough to fill the space of Earls Court easily.
The fit and healthy-looking band threw all the right shapes, and a bombastic climax of glitter canons, pyrotechnics and frenetic projections during Wild Boys left the crowd reeling but happy. It was a spectacularly silly but irresistibly delirious nostalgia trip, and a superb Christmas party writ large.

Courtesy Telegraph UK