Wednesday December 14,2011
By Anthony Reynolds
I could just list the songs and let you make your own mind up.
Girls On Film. Planet Earth. The Reflex. Ordinary World. Rio. Hungry Like The Wolf. Save A Prayer. Wild Boys. A View To A Kill…
You can't argue with a canon like that. I know some people loathe Duran, sure. But what must their hearts be like?
I don't loathe them. I love them. And have done since I was 14. Working class boys who through talent, work and luck transcended not just their station in life but got out beyond… everything. And I do count John Taylor’s jawline, Nick Rhodes’ hair and Roger Taylor’s pout as constituting talent too. It warms the cockles tonight to see that none of Duran Duran got fat and not only that they all have their own hair but they still have hair dos. Their latest album (All You Need Is Now) is as good as anything they’ve ever done which is to say very good indeed. At their best they are up-tempo melancholy, minor chord disco, handsome yet girlish, producing beautifully poised art funk-disco-laments and tonight they and their audience rock.
The arena is packed and the audience demographic is as varied as it's hyped up.
Bankers, labourers, secretaries, art students, cabbies, mums and their sons…all ages, all ethnicities.
And when the lights go down and the fab four saunter on you feel the love.
The place is on its feet, the air is roaring it's impossible not to smile.
In any other circumstance many of the people here would rarely interact outside this arena by we all share at least two things - Rio was our first beloved album, and everyone's girlfriend always fancied John Taylor.
Duran come on to a standing ovation. If at this point they kicked off with anything off of their greatest hits, then the entire venue would seemingly ascend into space. But nobly, we begin with Before The Rain, a string-heavy sigh of aches and sullen ecstasies from the new album. Planet Earth follows (It was my first 12". The “Night” version went on for days and although my family grew weary I never tired of it) and takes us into orbit.
The euphoria level dips as it inevitably must, usually with the airing of the most recent material. But even during the relative lull of All You Need Is Now and Blame The Machines it's merely a chance to catch your breath and gather oneself before the next 24 carat diamante classic issues forth full on, from both barrels.
Duran have long referenced Roxy Music, the Sex Pistols and Chic as influences but only the latter would have ever consented to “entertain”.
Duran, like Chic believe in Good Times and they work at it. When I was a kid, the perennial insult thrown at Duran round my way was that they were poseurs. Ironic now, in that Simon Le Bon doesn't seem the slightest bit interested in appearing cool, mysterious, or detached or as anything other than himself.
Plainly, he loves his work and loves his audience. Halfway through he gets offstage and takes it right into the heaving bosom of his public and cajoles a giddy girl to sing the intro to the Reflex for us. Shortly after he even gets Nick Rhodes to address us. In a measured, almost reassuringly robotic tone that amusingly reminds me of my mobile phone, Nick delivers a monologue about a past visit to Cardiff that inevitably involves rain.
At some point Simon somehow explains that he is in fact Welsh. John and Roger keep quiet for the most part, letting their ecstatic playing speak for them. To be in the same room as JT's exquisite Bass popping is a delight and a privilege. Joy of Joys he even get's the fretless out for Tiger Tiger. (One of the few nods tonight to their Japan (the band) influence). Taylor and Taylor are a fluid, funky and beautifully brittle rhythm section. I savour Roger's drum fills in the same way that a wine consessuir relishes the bouquet of a vintage burgundy.
Like all great groups Duran Duran have many subtly different sides to them and I must admit I prefer the melancholy, pop-art strain. I'd much rather The Chauffeur or Secret Oktober over the forced euphoria of Sunrise and the slightly sanitized sounding White lines. But these are minor quibbles as they say.
Tonight, here and now in this packed arena the world and life itself does for once make a perfect joyous sense. Almost each song is as fleeting and timeless as a perfect moment; this is pop music at its most divine, intoxicating and profound.