Scissor Sister Jake Shears promised fans Duran Duran would deliver a ‘f**king spectacular’ show and he wasn’t wrong.
Shears, 44, currently performing as a solo artist was one of two warm-up acts for Duran Duran at Leeds First Direct Arena - alongside Lia Lia. The ever-enthusiastic Shears told the venue, practically full by the time he took to the stage, how sentimental it is for him to support the 80s legends on tour.
As around 20-years-ago, his band Scissor Sisters, where Shears found global fame alongside Ana Matronic, were invited to support Duran Duran. On Thursday evening, Shears wasn’t shy about airing those Scissor Sisters classics during his 10-song mid-evening slot.
The crowd were treated to Laura, Comfortably Numb, of course originally made famous by Pink Floyd, Take Your Mama, I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ and set finisher Filthy/Gorgeous. These very well-known songs fell perfectly in Shears’ disco-infused performance with him set to release his second solo record Last Man Standing next month.
After an intro video, paying a very knowing nod to classic 80s cult film Blade Runner, Duran Duran took to the stage with their perfectly lit silhouettes looking down upon those in the stalls. An incredibly excited woman nearby screamed ‘I’ve dreamt of him all my life’ as Smash Hits heartthrob Simon Le Bon walked to the centre of the Leeds First Direct Arena stage.
Throughout a very knowing and self-aware gig, Duran Duran really didn’t mess about. Hits came thick and fast, in fairness there were plenty to go at. The Wild Boys and Hungry Like the Wolf were aired earlydoors followed by classic James Bond theme A View to a Kill - from the film of the same name starring Roger Moore as the famous gentleman spy. As fictional character and Bond-obsessive Alan Partridge once quipped us northerners might know that song and film better as A View t' Kill.
Duran's iconic singer, who later in the gig couldn’t help introducing himself as ‘Le Bon, Simon Le Bon’, welcomed backing singer Rachael O'Connor to duet with him on the well-received Invisible from Duran’s 2021 record Future Past.
Throughout the gig there were many winks to the decade where the band cemented their stardom. During the performance, old Smash Hits magazine covers, featuring the band, would flash on the big screens alongside other famous faces from the period. Le Bon, who started the gig dressed in sparkly silver trousers and accompanying jacket, spoke to his admiring fans, many adorned with flashing headwear and wearing wonderful tops with big shoulder pads, how 1993 hit Ordinary World was a big moment in the band’s career.
He then led the sell out arena crowd in a singalong to the song used in Daniel Craig film Layer Cake. Planet Earth, which followed soon after, arguably received the biggest reaction of the night. Fans bellowed out the chorus as the venue rumbled with 80s nostalgia.
During Duran’s appearance, the sense of fun was never lost, and there was an obvious feel that the band were very happy to celebrate their past and that of the period they came to prominence. Towards the end of the performance, the charismatic showman Le Bon led the band into a cover of Grandmaster Flash’s White Lines, an unmistakable 80s anthem. Around that time, he even blew water out of his mouth on fans down the front who appeared to be somewhat delighted.
On the subject of their devotees, there was one avid Duran follower down the front who deserves a special mention as throughout the 20-song set, he paraded down the arena’s bottom concourse area, wearing a floral shirt and glistening beret dancing with everyone he met. Like so many, he was having the time of his life.
Closing with a mash of their calling card Girls On Film and Calvin Harris song Acceptable in The 80s, Le Bon, paid tribute to his bandmates which was met with one of the evening’s biggest cheers. Their three-song encore saw the audience light up the First Direct Arena for Save a Prayer before everyone got their sparkly dancing shoes back on for Rio.
Many would agree, Duran Duran were a smash hit when they played Leeds on Thursday night.
Courtesy Leeds Live
Photo Copyright © Gary Mather