‘The name’s Bon… Simon Le Bon!’, this cheeky tongue-in-cheek reference refers to Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon’s delivery of that classic immortal line from the music video of their James Bond theme ‘A View To Kill’, but Simon and the rest of the band needed no introduction at the O2 last night.
This was no ‘Ordinary’ performance from the synth-pop veterans, this was an extraordinary, dynamic and fun-fueled performance that showcased the bands musical prowess and their extensive back catalogue. Effortlessly mixing both deep cuts, fan favourites and some of their biggest bits, the band had the sold out audience at the O2 in the palm of their hands.
Ably supported by Lia Lia and the magnificent Jake Shears who was resplendent in a sparkly jumpsuit who got the party started with an effervescent set which included tracks from his forthcoming second album and some Scissor Sisters classics, the O2 was ready to dance and Duran Duran didn’t disappoint one iota.
With striking visuals throughout, including a smorgasbord of old photos, newspaper cuttings and magazine covers from the eighties with the band emblazoned on them at the height of their fame, this was a nostalgic walk through their extensive back catalogue.
Kicking off proceedings with an understated version of ‘Nightboat’ from their eponymous debut album from 1981, the band dramatically appeared via a futuristic CGI spaceship on the big screens, preparing for a futuristic voyage to earth from outer space, made their way on to the stage for the first London date of their ‘Future Past’ tour.
This was an assured and bold performance which segued into the extravagant ‘Wild Boys’ which had the crowd on their feet was a triumph and the accompanying visual effects were stunning.
For the Duran Duran stans, there were a couple of sonic surprises, namely in the shape of ‘Last Chance On The Stairway’ from 1982’s ‘Rio’ which the group hadn’t played in 15 years which was a stunning rendition. It was also fantastic to hear ‘Is There Something I Should Know?’ which was a welcome addition to the set.
Whilst there were obvious nods to the classic tracks of the ‘80s, there were also of shows is in support of their 2021 album ‘Future Past’, but only three songs from that LP – ‘Invisible’, ‘Give It All Up’ and ‘Anniversary’ – appeared in the setlist, as the group celebrated their superb catalogue in all its glory.
‘Hungry Like The Wolf’ was one of many standouts of the career-spanning setlist that was a sparkling celebration of their most-loved hits and more. There was also a segue into the Calvin Harris track ‘Acceptable In The 80s’ during the gloriously-OTT ‘Girls On Film’.
Simon talked about when asked about the meaning of ‘Ordinary World’ he always responds with “what does it mean to you”, and for the O2 crowd it seems… a hell of a lot. Always a fan favourite, this was the track that “saved Duran Duran” as Simon revealed and he remarked that “it means so many different things to many different people”. ‘Ordinary World’ was a commanding and emotional performance, and didn’t lack the power or passion that the recorded track offers.
The show closed with two Duran Duran favourites, the exemplary ‘Save A Prayer’ and the boombastic ‘Rio’ which was an electrifying end to an immersive and rousing night of live music.
Vibrant, glitzy, and unforgettable, Duran Duran gave a first class and commanding performance that was mesmerising and joyous in equal measure.
Words: Emma Harrison
Photo Credit: Andy Von Pip Photography