During the course of a hugely successful career spanning more than 40 years, pop group Duran Duran have played in most of Yorkshire’s major venues. But this summer they will be breaking new ground with a concert at The Piece Hall in Halifax.
Drummer Roger Taylor says the band, whose long run of hits includes The Reflex, Is There Something I Should Know, Hungry Like the Wolf and Girls on Film, are “really looking forward” to the show. “The few shows we did last year I’ve got to say the audiences were incredible, particularly in Scarborough,” he says.
As Taylor notes, elaborate productions have always been Duran Duran’s “thing”, and they won’t be stinting on spectacle at these two concerts. “To have great visuals, great lights, great screens, we’ve always been very interested in the aesthetic side of the show, so these will be pretty stunning,” says the 62-year-old.
With a set that includes songs from the band’s latest album, Future Past, which reached Number Three in the UK charts last year, as well as “all the classics”, it will be “a great show”, he says.
FUTURE PAST has been widely hailed as a creative rebirth for the band, who formed in Birmingham in 1978, but Taylor suggests the process had begun with their 2011 album All You Need Is Now. “I think it goes back to (producer) Mark Ronson,” he says. “He was the first one who made us feel that we needed to make peace with ourselves.
“We’d been running down all these different avenues trying to reinvent the sound of the band, and Mark was the first one that came along and said, ‘You guys need to sound a bit more like yourselves. Why don’t you go back to the way you used to record and really get back to playing together as a band, so the rhythm section can really kick through?’
“Nick got a lot of his old analogue synths out again at that point. So I think it was kind of like a journey of self-acceptance that started with Mark Ronson on All You Need Is Now and we reached the end of the journey with this record. It took us two or three albums to really capture the energy of those early records.”
This time they were aided by producer Erol Alkan, who brought “so much energy” to the project. “Erol had a lot of enthusiasm, he was a big fan of the 12-inches that we used to cut particularly and he really wanted to recapture the energy of those,” Taylor says.
Former Blur guitarist Graham Coxon also brought a different sensibility to the recording sessions. “Don Brown had played on a couple of the records and John Frusciante came in as a little bit of an after-thought on the last record (Paper Gods) but it was great to have somebody from day one writing with us in the studio,” says Taylor. “He’s such a nice, humble guy, he fitted in really well, everything he played was very ‘Duran appropriate’, if you like, so I think that really shaped the record as well.”
In keeping with modern trends, FUTURE PAST features a wealth of guest artists such as rapper Ivorian Doll, Swedish singer-songwriter Tove Lo and the all-female Japanese rock band Chai.
Again, Taylor thinks Duran Duran were ahead of the curve, recalling their 80s offshoot Arcadia. “It was one of the first albums that had featured artists on it. We had Sting on it, we had Grace Jones, Dave Gilmour came in to play with us, so we had that back in the 80s. But again, that’s something Mark Ronson pushed us towards because he’s got a very big telephone book and he can pick names out of that at will, apparently. So Mark got us back into that and I think it’s very much part of the modern way of making records.
“When you’ve been making records for as long as we have, I think it’s great to have new people coming in and younger energy. People have a different way of looking at things and bring a different sound to the record.”
Working with Giorgio Moroder, the Italian ‘father of disco’, was the realisation of a long-held dream. “The first song we ever played together was I Feel Love,” Taylor remembers. “That was the opening song at the first gig at the Rum Runner. We’ve always been indebted to Giorgio, Planet Earth is pure Giorgio Moroder, and I believe that he wanted to work with us in the 80s and we wanted to work with him but we never managed to get in the same room together because life became so busy. You couldn’t even find time to work with Giorgio Moroder, but we finally got there and it was incredible. He’s a musical genius, he really knows about arrangements and how a song should build.”
Duran Duran play at The Piece Hall, Halifax on July 5.
Courtesy Halifax Courier