Duran Duran, The Forum, London

More panto than New Romantic

By Steve Jelbert
Thursday 26 September 2013 04:12

It's 25 years since their formation, as the T-shirts on sale remind everyone, and Duran Duran have already managed one prerequisite for entry into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: the original line-up are all alive (though this must be their first show together in nearly two decades).

Just who wants to see a Duran Duran reunion is a moot point, there being a lot more males here than the band used to attract in their heyday (though, to be fair, it's not easy coming out at 14).

Le Bon, Rhodes, Taylor, Taylor and Taylor formed their first band together, bought their first make-up together, and doubtless even learned to sail together. When they line up and take the applause before starting up with the appropriate "Friends of Mine" the crowd go nuts. What once sounded as shrill as a hockey international crowd is may now be lower pitched but, nonetheless, these people love them.

These days Simon Le Bon looks like Julian Casablancas's louche uncle and diminutive guitarist Andy Taylor seems to be standing in a hole, but there's still more glamour on this stage than all the Roger Moore Bond movies put together. It's a pity there wasn't a cocktail bar at tonight's venue, but you can't have it all.

Someone waves a banner. Perhaps she got her daughter to make it. They play "Planet Earth", "Save A Prayer", they mess up "Is There Something I Should Know" to ironic cheers, and "Hungry Like The Wolf", recently copied by Avril Lavigne, is much more fun. These tunes were corny when they came out, which might be while it feels like a big hen night in here. Or a school disco.

The excellent John Taylor is still unfeasibly handsome. While, inevitably, the band have to air some new songs to justify a pending record deal, no-one can hear much of them, for when Taylor appears on the video screens middle-aged hysteria breaks out.

Duran Duran are certainly daft these days and they surely know it. Why else would they crack into "We Are Family" during "Notorious"? "Wild Boys" is played, rightly, for laughs while "Rio" is pure panto. Best of all is the bubblegum punk of "Careless Memories". They even did a deservedly derided cover of Grandmaster Flash's "White Lines", accompanied by a middle-aged lady vocalist who might well have been a competition winner.

Yet it was all great fun, especially when the crowd sang along loud enough to drown out Le Bon's voice (recently compared to "a drunkard attempting Chinese opera"). Could you imagine a self-contained band playing their own blend of clunky funk and selling millions of records to today's teenagers? Did we even know who their managers and producers were? Duran Duran remain a glorious anomaly.

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