Duran Duran @ Birmingham NIA – 7th July 2008


When I found out last minute, that I was going to review Duran Duran, I was pretty excited. Being a typical girl of the ‘80’s who held a small flame for John Taylor, I have seen them a few times in the past and I knew they would put on a good show. Saying that though, usually I have had a few beers under my belt and I am in the midst of the crowd, whereas, this time I would be sober and sat in the nosebleed seats, miles away from the action. The seats turned out to be a useful perch from which to view the audience’s reaction throughout the show, and thank god I was sober, otherwise, I don’t think I would have made it down the steps in one piece.


Considering Duran Duran are known as one of the ‘80’s biggest pop bands, their choice of support for tonight’s show was peculiar, if not slightly misguided, considering The Duke Spirit are more Nick Cave than Nick Rhodes. However, I was very pleased when I saw the line up, as I missed The Duke Spirit when they played The Barfly in November and was looking forward to see how their music would relay in such a large venue, facing an unfamiliar crowd. Liela took to the stage with vigour and dynamism, proving that she was not going to let the sense of occasion, a Duran Duran homecoming gig, overwhelm her. They played a solid forty minute set which included a selection of tracks from their two albums ‘Cuts Across The Land’ and ‘Neptune’; the strongest tracks being ‘Lassoo’ and ‘Dog Roses’. Unfortunately, the acoustics of the venue did more to hinder than enhance their performance, as there seemed to be a second time delay before my right ear heard the atmospheric drumming, after the sound had rebounded off the back wall, resulting in a strange melee of noise. Some members of the audience responded enthusiastically to the band’s efforts, me included, however, as Liela commented, it was probably the younger ones that appreciated The Duke Spirit more.


Duran Duran have undergone some major changes since their last Birmingham show, including working with both Timbaland and Timberlake and the departure of long standing member, Andy Taylor, to be replaced by Dom Brown. Tonight’s performance is in support of their 2007 album ‘Red Carpet Massacre’, which, despite receiving favourable comments from critics, has failed to reach expectations in sales. Regardless of this, the NIA was practically a sell out and the audience were starting to get restless, awaiting the entrance of the band, who burst on to the stage with as much energy as they had 1981, playing the first three tracks of the album. Having not listened to this new album, the tracks washed over me, making minimal impression, although, at least half of the audience were enjoying them. Simon LeBon proceeded to announce that the next track, ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’, was in honour of Nick Rhodes’ father, who had recently passed away. The crowd’s fervour exploded, the majority of people out of their seats, singing at the top of their voices and loving every minute of it, a very fitting tribute.


It was obvious what the audience wanted to see; classic Duran Duran hits. For the next thirty minutes, that is what we got. The odd new track, such as ‘Falling Down’ was slotted in, but these did not invigorate the crowd as much as the likes of ‘Planet Earth’, ‘The Reflex’, ‘Save a Prayer’ and ‘A View to a Kill’. Even though Duran Duran have been playing these tracks for twenty years plus, they continued to execute them with freshness and a real enjoyment for performing, including Simon showing he can still kick his leg in the air despite his age, but maybe Justin Timberlake could give him a few pointers in the art of dance. Throughout the show, LeBon’s vocals were on top form except he did appear to struggle slightly reaching the lower vocal range during the first verse of ‘Come Undone’. The rest of the band managed to conquer the poor acoustics, through a combination of volume, experience at playing arenas and a genre of music more suited to the venue than their support act; saying that the delay added something to ‘The Reflex’.


Part way through the show, there was a mini interval, when the band went off for a costume change and a selection of electronic instruments were brought to the centre of the stage. After a few minutes, the band re-entered to play ‘Skin Divers’ and electrified adaptations of ‘All She Wants Is’, ‘I Don’t Want Your Love’ and ‘Skintrade’. For me, this was the weakest part of the performance, as it felt like the band were trying to experiment in a different genre and completely missing the point. After this glitch, Duran Duran returned to form, playing further classics, such as ‘Notorious’, ‘Girls on Film’ and ‘Ordinary World’. Even ‘(Reach up for the) Sunrise’, a relatively new track, kept the crowd enthralled, which is encouraging for the Duran boys as the fans may accept the tracks from the ‘Red Carpet Massacre’ in the future. The final track, ‘Wildboys’, epitomised ‘80’s pop at its greatest and emphasised that Duran Duran are still at the top of their game. An encore of Rio followed, leaving a very content audience, some still sporting legwarmers and various neon accessories as they exited the building, but all knowing that Duran Duran always come home with passion, whether it be the Rum Runner or the NIA.

Review – Toni Woodward
Photos – John Mason

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4 thoughts on “Duran Duran @ Birmingham NIA – 7th July 2008

  1. It would have been more useful if the reviewer had bothered to listen to Red Carpet Massacre before going to the concert (in fact, it would have been more useful if a lot of the ‘fans’ had bothered to listen to RCM before the concert!

    Also, in the electronic interlude (which started after about 1hr), the first track was “Last Chance on The Stairway” from Rio followed by “All She Wants Is”, “Warm Leatherette”, “I Don’t Want Your Love” and finally “Tempted” (from RCM)! “Skin Divers” was played about 25 minutes earlier.

    Were you actually there?

    Personally I really enjoyed the electronic interlude, and I imagine most of the long term fans who were there did as well. I also imagine most of the people who didn’t enjoy it were the same ones who were only there to hear the early stuff and hadn’t bothered to listen to RCM!

  2. sadly John, most people aren’t interested in trying out new music. They just want to hear the familiar, or whatever is pumped out of chart radio…
    glad you enjoyed the show. The Liverpool gig was fab…

  3. I had listened to one track from the new album and found it to be a version of early 90’s rave hence I decided not to purchase the album – to be fair are Duran Duran nowadays noted for pushing the boundaries of new music? Furthermore, I was seated high in the auditorium and therefore could see the reaction of the crowd to the electronic section and to the new album, both of which were lack lustre. I appreciate you are welcome to your opinion, and I to mine. I also do not mention every single track played as it is not necessary and can make a review dull.

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