The audience have had to wait quite a time for this homecoming show as it was originally scheduled to take place in May, however Simon Le Bon’s ill health meant the Birmingham crowd have had to be patient until now to see Duran Duran in their full glory.
A subdued start to the proceedings takes the format of the last track from their latest album, All You Need is Now. Before the Rain is a thoughtful number that demonstrates Le Bon’s vocals are still a force to be reckoned with and that the band are not purely an 80’s nostalgia trip. After this atmospheric beginning, the pace quickens with the classics Planet Earth and A View to a Kill that sees most of the near capacity audience take to their feet in appreciation. Duran Duran know how to work a venue as large as the LG Arena with a minimal stage set, creating a voluminous sound that is needed for their music. The band woo the crowd and photographers with ease, covering the length and breadth of the stage making sure everyone feels a part of the events, whilst posing at various points to make it easy for the photographers in the pit to get a good shot.
The tracks from the latest album, such as Blame It On The Machines are well received, maybe not as enthusiastically as their older music, but clearly illustrate that Duran Duran have got musical avenues yet to explore and are not willing to rest on their laurels as one the 80’s greatest pop bands. Come Undone sees the pace of the set slow down and strangely Le Bon’s lower range vocals lose the warmth that is captured on the record. But this is only temporary glitch rectified for Safe, and by the time the vocalist leaves the stage to converse with the audience and get Lucy from Coventry to start The Reflex, it is long forgotten. This live band are a tight musical unit that read each other so well that there are no obvious errors in timing or pitch even in their newer repertoire. The backdrop visuals for Girl Panic! prove that Duran Duran continue to epitomise glamour and style, as a selection of supermodels impersonate the band; and fair play, as the band still look mighty fine.
As the set progresses the band consistently impress with a well-considered mix of tracks from their back catalogue and new album. The enjoyment and veneration of the audience can be viewed by the number of tweets that are displayed thanks to John’s words of encouragement and the dedication of Ordinary World to all the Brummies shows that the appreciation is reciprocated. The trio of Notorious, Hungry Like The Wolf, and the annoyingly catchy (Reach Up For The) Sunrise sees the band leave the stage briefly only to lead into the grand finale of Wild Boys which is mashed up seamlessly with Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax followed by Rio. As the band exit for the final time you realise how many Duran Duran songs are embedded in your past and the only negative element of the event is the number of songs you wish they could have added into the set.
Review – Toni Woodward
Photos – Steve Gerrard