Duran Duran, The Lyceum, London
Daggers, Purple Turtle, London

More than 25 years after they burst on to the scene, Duran Duran show that they haven't lost the art of making great pop songs

'The name's Bon. Simon Le Bon." I don't know about you, but I was never convinced by that moment in the "View to a Kill" video. The singer was simply too smooth-skinned and shrill, and hadn't yet acquired the gravel or gravitas necessary to play Bond.

Now, however, it's a different matter: Simon Le Bon is looking quite revoltingly healthy and suave, and so are the rest of Duran Duran, who are arguably making an even better fist of the boyband-manband transition than Take That.

Speaking of which, I've said it before and I'll say it again: no matter how much derision Duran Duran may have drawn from "proper music" bores in their Eighties pomp, and however much they've been written out of post-punk discourse by serious journalists since, in the modern age we'd surely sacrifice at least one metaphorical limb for teen pop pin-ups as interesting as Le Bon, Rhodes and the assorted Taylors: arcane lyrics, angular, avant garde-inflected disco-rock tunes, art-house sci-fi videos, they were essentially a chart-friendly Japan (and, in the troublingly beautiful Nick Rhodes, even had their own pocket Sylvian).

Duran, unlike their main rivals Spandau Ballet and Wham!, were always unafraid to push things to the limits: witness their hiatus year, in which Le Bon, Rhodes and Roger Taylor recorded an album under the name Arcadia which the singer has since called "the most pretentious record ever made", while John and Andy Taylor combined with Robert Palmer and the drummer from Chic as the rock-funk monstrosity The Power Station to make what is widely considered to be the most cocainey-sounding music in pop history.

It was after that lunatic interlude that they hooked up with Nile Rodgers, the superstar producer of the decade, for "Notorious", exhibiting a canny willingness to surrender a certain amount of autonomy in the interests of making great pop. And, two decades later, they've done it again: Red Carpet Massacre, the Brummies' best album since the Eighties, is basically Duran going up to Timbaland (and his extended team, including Nate "Danja" Hills and Justin Timberlake) and saying, "OK, make us cool again."

The first half of this one-off show at their old stomping ground, the Lyceum Theatre "It's great to be back!" beams John Taylor in an accent that's Sutton Coldfield via southern California consists of the cutting-edge R&B and electro-soul of Red Carpet Massacre, and nothing but. The show is being filmed for VH1, and consequently the entire crowd is blinded by the glare of floodlight beams, which are presumably intended to show what a great time we're having, but actually have the opposite effect: we're too self-conscious and, like roadkill rabbits, we can't move. (It doesn't help that the crowd is packed with too-cool-to-party showbiz types: just glancing around the immediate vicinity, I spot Bob Geldof, Chanelle from Big Brother and, er, Tamara Beckwith.)

"Timbaland!" shouts Le Bon, causing a brief flurry of excitement, but the studio superstar is present only in the form of a life-size projection on a hi-tech screen. An even more puzzling announcement is made by John Taylor, who says, "Like all good punk songs, this is dedicated to the dream of transcendence"... before an entirely instrumental track.

Now that Andy Taylor has quit again, the stand-in role once fulfilled by porn legend Warren Cuccurullo is now taken by a random Bryan Adams lookalike, and a girl singer and additional keyboardist (making three, since JT also has a synth with a giant glittering "D" on the front) pad out the line-up, but any unfamiliarity vanishes as soon Le Bon rhymes "massacre" with "hassle ya": yes, no doubt about it, Simon still finds songwriting about as easy as a nuclear war.

After an interval, something extraordinary happens. This time it's the stage, not the stalls, that is bathed in an unearthly white glow, as the four remaining members of Duran, dressed now in black satin suits and ties, line up sans backing band behind four synths on closely aligned stands (well, three synths and one synth drum rack), exactly like a Kraftwerk concert.

In case we miss the point, they launch into a cover of Kraftwerk's "Showroom Dummies", with Le Bon declaiming deadpan through a vocoder, which slowly transforms into a medley involving The Normal's J G Ballardesque "Warm Leatherette" and their own "All She Wants Is" and "Skin Trade". Hearing Simon Le Bon intone "A tear of petrol/Is in your eye/The handbrake/Penetrates your thigh/Quick, let's make love/Before you die" is truly bizarre.

There's some serious wish-fulfilment going on here: you get the impression that Rhodes, in particular, is living out a lifelong fantasy of being in Kraftwerk. It's also a statement. Following on from the Rhodes/Taylor-curated Only After Dark compilation, which compiled the type of New Wave sounds the band used to play as DJs in their Rum Runner days, this little gig-within-a-gig is saying to the world: "This stuff, not the bloody Bay City Rollers, is our heritage."

It's absolutely superb, an utterly unexpected and more than generous reward for sitting through the new material, and it's the sort of thing one hopes they attempt more often when they get around to touring Red Carpet Massacre.

At that point, the curtain drops, the band are back, and the full-on hits encore begins: "Rio"", "Planet Earth", "The Reflex", "Ordinary World", "Notorious" and "View to a Kill" itself, by which time even grumpy Geldof taps his feet, and even uptight Chanelle is out of her seat.

The last time I reviewed Duran, I wrote about them alongside an up-and-coming Duran-inspired band called The Bravery, who looked to be in with a decent shout of emulating the Eighties legends' success. The way in which they've fallen by the wayside illustrates that, like Le Bon's aforementioned nuclear war, it ain't easy at all.

Time for someone else to have a shot. Enter, from the recently revived city of Manchester, another young quintet with a self-evident love of the Eighties and a synthesiser or two up their sleeves.

Well, I say "sleeves", but in reality, singer Theo, who performs bare-chested in the shredded remains of a ripped-open T-shirt, has none. Daggers treat small club shows as if they were stadiums, and I love that. (The last time I saw a band play a pub gig with that kind of spirit, it was The Darkness, and their self-belief became a self-fulfilling prophecy.)

Before the show, Theo confided to me that after being on the receiving end of a savage beating in Manchester, he spent his recovery in hospital reading Simon Reynolds' Rip It Up and Start Again, a book that charts the way in which the post-punk generation viewed the scorched-earth that punk had left behind as a tabula rasa to redesign pop from scratch.

It shows. Daggers have digested the theory that there is no necessary divide between art and populism, and they're already putting it into practice. Their debut single "Money", which has been widely compared to The Human League, but which personally reminds me of Heaven 17 circa Penthouse and Pavement, is the sort of song that, with every listen, sounds like a potential modern classic.

If you want to gauge Daggers' potential, you aren't just looking at the Manchester scene, or the indie scene, or anything so irrelevant. You're looking at Planet Earth.

Further browsing From Duran Duran to dirty dirty on en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Warren/Cuccurullo

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
At this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas

Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
Crime watch: Cara Delevingne and Daniel Brühl in ‘The Face of an Angel’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
music Malik left the Asian leg of the band's world tour after being signed off with stress last week
News
Author J.K. Rowling attends photocall ahead of her reading from 'The Casual Vacancy' at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on September 27, 2012 in London, England.
peopleNot the first time the author has defended Dumbledore's sexuality
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
photography
News
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
people
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss