Posts Tagged ‘duran duran’
A Diamond In The Mind – Duran Duran
I admit I have form when it comes to reviewing Duran Duran. I make no attempt to disguise my infatuation with the band that are singularly responsible for introducing me to the world of music but that doesn’t mean I can’t be objective. Hell, even I don’t listen to Liberty very often. Except for Serious though, that is criminally overlooked these days.
But anyway, following on from last year’s triumphant ‘All You Need Is Now’ album, widely regarded as the natural successor to 1982s classic Rio, A Diamond In The Mind (Duran Duran Live 2011) captures DD live at both the top of their game and on the brink of personal disaster…
Having rescheduled a string of shows due to Simon Le Bon’s undisclosed vocal problems, it has since transpired that this had indeed posed a very real threat to not just the tour but the band itself…
The CD is trimmed down to a single disc friendly 14 tracks, this does mean that the hard-core fan may be a bit disappointed at the omissions but this is usually always the case with a commercial live album, you can’t please all of the people after all.
With a back catalogue as extensive as Duran, the running order looks like a ramshackle Greatest Hits with a few new tracks thrown in for good measure. With high energy versions of Planet Earth, A View To A Kill and The Reflex scattered across the 14 tracks, the Duran Duran live show of today is a full on pop assault. Only Ordinary World and Come Undone offer a chance to catch your breath, at the same time reminding you that Duran are (often under-rated) master song writers.
AYNIN is represented with the title track, Blame The Machines and the Girls On Film Y2K glitz of Girl Panic! It is a shame that The Man Who Stole A Leopard is omitted, an album and tour highlight, it harked back to the likes of The Chauffeur and the slightly Avant guard sound the band perfected in the 80s.
(Reach Up For The) Sunrise is further proof the Duran boys are not relying solely on the past and marks the run in to the end of the show. The Wild boys spliced with Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax paves the way for the show stealing finale of Rio. A regular set finisher these days, it is still easily one of the finest pop singles of the 80s and I have not been to a DD show yet where it fails to raise the roof with a mass sing-a-long.
Maybe I am biased but the magic of a Duran concert is that despite the fact they are an 80s band, a Duran show never feels like a nostalgia trip, their new material is the equal of their 80s output and this is a band with a history, not one relying on a history.
For all Your Duran Duran needs, visit their offical website HERE.
It would prove to be a slightly surreal night by the end, having seen Duran Duran live several times over the last ten years I am well versed in what to expect but this will go down as one of the stranger evenings spent in the company of Le Bon and co.
Whatever your thoughts on Duran, you have to feel at least a little sympathy with them at the moment. Current album All You Need Is Now is a triumphant return to form, a natural successor to Rio and crammed full of preening pop nuggets. However, as those who have paid any attention to the DD career trajectory, for every step forward, something always seems to trip them up.
With the cancellation of much of the All You Need Is Now tour earlier in the year due to Simon Le Bon’s illness, it did feel the momentum would once more be lost. So, with Bournemouth’s show marking the second night of the rescheduled run, fingers were crossed for a smooth, trouble free night…
However, right from the word go it seems the Gods of Rock n Roll (or hairspray and sequins) had other ideas. Plagued by technical problems from the very start, John Taylor battled gallantly with a bass rig that just would not play ball or, at one point, anything at all.
A stuttering ‘Planet Earth’ is the first clear signal that the equipment may not be on its best behaviour but ‘Come Undone’ is the real victim of the night. Due to those pesky spanners in the works, John is left without a bass for the entire song, the rest battle on but you can feel this has unsettled both group and audience.
Lesser bands may well have thrown a hissy fit and stormed off, but Duran have never been ones to disappoint a crowd and they do their best to make light of the situation. There is one point where this resolve appears to be about to break as Nick deadpans ‘we could blame tonight on HUMAN error…’ at which moment I was left thinking a diva tantrum was about to unfold, but he continues ‘or we could just ‘Blame The Machines’..’ and they launch in to a rousing version of the AYNIN track.
New single ‘Girl Panic!’ is vintage Duran, taken from AYNIN the glamorously over the top video featuring supermodels posing as the band provides the backdrop and is rapturously received by the faithful in the crowd and proves it is not just past glories the group are surviving on.
The Seven And The Ragged Tiger instrumental ‘Tiger, Tiger’ was greeted with less enthusiasm than normal, John invited the crowd to ‘Tweet’ during the song and the ‘humorous’ results were projected onto the video screens behind the stage
Sparking the 90s revival, ‘Ordinary World’ is still a defining track in the DD catalogue, as Dom delivers the now iconic guitar the crowd roar with approval and the night noticeably shifts up a notch. As ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’ and ‘(Reach Up For The) Sunrise’ bring the set to a close, the spectre of disaster is a distant memory and the party atmosphere, if a little late, is firmly in place.
For the encore ‘Wild Boys’ is spliced with an impromptu rendition of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘Relax’ before Duran bow out on the customary big hitter of ‘Rio’. At this point the crowd let go completely and soak up every last minute of the night. Whilst for some ‘Rio’ (and the infamous ‘yacht’ video) may well be the very symbol of the hedonistic, decadent image Duran are often reviled for, it is a damn good pop song and as always provides a rousing end to the show.
So in the end all the gremlins in the works did actually work to the bands favour, sort of, as the whole crowd got behind them and even with a five minute ‘tea break’ to allow the roadies a chance to bring on the gaffa tape and blu tack for some on the hop repairs, the audience remained firmly on the side of the Duran boys. It did throw the whole night off kilter just a tad, the band seemed nervous and (understandably) a little annoyed. This did not however stop them from delivering another fantastic night of music, video backdrops and dodgy dancing (sorry Simon, you know as well as I do). So, rose tinted glasses? Maybe a bit, I love Duran Duran and proud of it, but the truth is they are a fantastic pop band, preening 80s pretty boys to some, legends to me.
Unlike those who can’t be named (or can now, I forget), I cannot afford a super injunction, not that I want one as I am not ashamed of my legendary obsession with Duran Duran. This does indeed stretch to all the solo offerings, including the John Taylor solo track ‘I Do What I Do (To Have You)’, theme to 80s schoolboy wet dream flick ‘9½ Weeks’, on Japanese 12” amongst others formats.
And it is this attention to detail that first introduced me to Michael Des Barres. Whilst Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor were forging a more ‘arty’ pursuit with Arcadia, John and Andy Taylor chose to get their ‘rock’ on with The Powerstation. Original line-up included Robert Palmer on vocal duties but as the success of the band led to more recognition, Palmer left to pursue his solo career and Michael Des Barres stepped in to steer the ship.
This also included an appearance at Live Aid where the band performed at the Philadelphia concert, but as a child of the 80s I was more impressed with the group’s cameo on Miami Vice.
Des Barres story began long before this though; his first band Silverhead (including a pre-Blondie Nigel Harrison) released their self-titled debut album in 1972. Signed to the Deep Purple ‘Purple Records’ imprint they released two studio sets and a live album but split before the completion of their third album.
Whilst commercial success may have slightly eluded them (in the UK), the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle certainly didn’t, touring with the likes of Nazareth and Uriah Heep as well as becoming huge stars in Japan. Their brand of slightly sleazy rock draws comparisons to fellow 70s glam rockers the New York Dolls and they have become a cult name over the years.
After the break-up of the band, Des Barres formed Detective, this time signed to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Swan Song’ label, but like Silverhead the band broke up before the release of their third album.
During the 1980s Michael released two solo albums 1980s ‘I’m Only Human’ and 1986s ‘Someone Up Their Likes Me’ as well as forming another group, ‘Chequered Past’ with Steve Jones (Sex Pistols) and Clem Burke and Nigel Harrison (Blondie) and of course aforementioned stint with The Powerstation.
Arguably it is his acting career that will be more familiar to some, spanning some 50 years having started at the tender age of eight (after he found himself an agent by looking in the phone book) he appeared in episodes of Z-Cars and Dixon Of Dock Green in the 60s and Mother’s favourite (or was it just my Mum?) The Rockford Files during the 70s.
Between the 80s and 00s he appeared in some of the biggest TV shows around including Frasier, Alias, MacGyver, 21 Jump Street, Roseanne, Melrose Place and best of all…. ALF. He has been in over 30 movies including ‘Sugar Town’ with Duran Duran’s John Taylor (have I mentioned them?) and David Lynch’s ‘Mulholland Drive’.
So what is he up to now? Thanks for asking, that leads me in nicely to the here and now. Michael has been working on a number of new tracks and his new group ‘The Michael Des Barres Band’ have played a few exclusive shows in Hollywood. The band currently includes Jebin Bruni (Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann) on keyboards, David Goodstein (Nil Lara, Daniel Powter) on drums, Eric Schermerhorn (Iggy Pop, David Bowie) on guitar and Paul Ill (Juliette Lewis, Courtney Love) on bass.
A recent appearance at SXSW saw Michael reunited with Nigel Harrison for a rendition of a Silverhead classic ‘More Than Your Mouth Can Hold’ and you can see a clip of it below.
Pete Makowski has known Michael for many years and has recently been treated to some exclusive new tracks, currently commercially unavailable and only recently debuted live. So I am very excited to be able to exclusively bring you one of these tracks for TAPEtoTAPE. Oh, yeah, that is how we roll these days!
Here is a cheeky little number called ‘Little Latin Lover’. Unavailable anywhere else (for now at least) and an introduction to the new material Michael will be working on and hopefully releasing later in the year.
The Eighties are always a source of endless musical debate, lauded by some, vilified by others. My Duran Duran obsession is no secret and no shame, my brief Spandau Ballet leanings are on the other hand my only embarrassing ‘hands up I was wrong’ moment.
So what of one of my other childhood heroes, the dandy highway man himself, Adam Ant (real name Stuart Goddard.. not showing off, this becomes relevant later).
There is no super-injunction out hiding his well-documented mental health problems and over the last few years, whilst Charlie Sheen’s ‘Bi-Winning’ has somehow made him a new slacker hero, the Ant’s decline was greeted with less acclaim.
So a sold out Wedgewood Rooms waits and fifteen minutes after he was due on stage the band (for this is not ‘The Ants’) plays and Adam Ant saunters on dressed as the true heir to the Captain Jack crown, looking strikingly fit for a 56 year old and clearly not here to fulfil some nostalgia trip.
From the start it is clear that this is not a ‘Greatest Hits’ cash in, starting with ‘Plastic Surgery’ the B-side to 1978 single ‘Deutscher Girls’ (also played) the message is clear, his heart belongs to his punk rock roots and that is where he is going back to.
In fact, you need only look at the line up to see his intent, the iconic two drummer set up is back and this provides the tribal backbone to a near faultless set, 99% of which can be traced to the Dirk Wears White Sox and Kings Of The Wild Frontier long players.
There are still acknowledgements to his ‘pop star’ years with the likes of ‘Stand And Deliver’ and ‘Prince Charming’ getting a welcome airing, along with the slightly more surprising inclusion of ‘Goody Two Shoes’ and his only entry from post 1985 being the beautiful ‘Wonderful’.
This is a show for the hardcore and you feel for Adam himself, the myth that all B-sides were merely vinyl filler is dispelled with panache as early flip-sides are dispatched and indeed received, with sweaty abandon.
‘Beat My Guest’ (B-side of Stand And Deliver), ‘Kick’ and ‘Lady’ (from Car Trouble and Young Parisians respectively) stand shoulder to shoulder with any of the chart conquering A-sides they accompanied.
Of course there are signs that Adam Ant is still walking a thin line between genius and madness. Some unheard comment from the crowd is greeted with the response; ‘You know what I do if someone fucks up my gig? I fuck them up’ and at this point you wonder whether the equilibrium is about to shatter. So when this is followed by the cries of ‘STUART! STUART!’ from one intoxicated punter I start to worry this could be it…. However the heckler is shot down with ‘only my Mum and the police call me Stuart… so fuck that!’ and all fears of an onstage breakdown vanish as it seems the Ant is still fully in control of his sense of humour.
Then begins the slightly surreal first encore… ever thought ‘Y.M.C.A’ was about as camp and in your face as it could get? Au contraire! Cunningly retitled ‘A.N.T.S’ and almost certainly having lyrics about ‘coming in your pants’ it makes the Village People’s version seem, well, still pretty fruity but you get the point.
Finally bowing out to a raucous rip through T-Rex’s ‘Get It On’ followed swiftly by ‘Physical (You’re So)’, striding off before the song ends and never looking back, Adam Ant has done what we all hoped he would, put on a fantastic show.
Whatever nerves he may have had, these were put to one side as we were treated to a full two hour set and at no point was it any less than exhilarating. With the promise of a new album next year, you can only hope that the tour continues to go from strength to strength and that Adam Ant can really reclaim his mantle as the King Of The Wild Frontier.
There will no doubt even be members of the TAPEtoTAPE team who will scoff at this review, you know who you are *cough* Pete. Over the years ‘Pop’ has become a bit of a dirty word, unless you are enjoying it in an ‘ironic’ fashion then pop is just not cool.
There was a time however when pop bands were a little more dynamic and exciting than the pre-packaged versions that stock the shelves these days, a time when popstars were larger than life characters with songs to match. That time was the 80s.
Duran Duran in a nutshell goes something like this, Globe conquering success, number one singles and albums around the World and Live Aid (just don’t mention ‘A View To A Kill’) but then came the inevitable split. The late 80s saw them lose their foothold with the audience before their resurrgance in 1993 with ‘Ordinary World’ and ‘The Wedding Album’. The Ill-fated covers album (‘Thank You’) and the rest of the 90s spent in the wilderness and Duran Duran found themselves another casualty of the decade of decadence that time was trying to forget.
Then in 2003 the reunion was announced, once more Taylor, Taylor, Taylor, Rhodes and Le Bon were back and the release of ‘Astronaut’ the new studio album to feature the original line up since 1984s ‘Seven And The Ragged Tiger’ heralded a new era for DD and Duranies alike. Fast forward to 2011 and Andy Taylor has left once more and only one more studio set has surfaced in this time (despite the fact there is another whole album knocking around somewhere).
Self-confessed Duran fan Mark Ronson is at the helm and ‘All You Need Is Now’ has been touted as the unofficial follow-up to 1982s ‘Rio’ album. So should we care? Emphatically, YES, YES we should.
This is the album all us Duranies have been waiting for, a true return to form, often hinted at but previously never quite attained. It is an album crammed full with proper pop songs, everything from the title track through to kissing cousin of ‘Girls On Film’, ‘Girl Panic!’ have a freedom and energy somehow lacking in the last few releases.
Often derided for his lyrics, rather unfairly at times, AYNIN contains some neat lyrical imagery along with a few seemingly stark confessions ‘Fame, seems a far off day, when enough was never enough, vain, how I played my hand, one more reckless man in the rough’ on ‘Safe (In The Heat Of The Moment)’ seems particularly frank.
The two real gems on the album however come in the form of ‘Save A Prayer’ update ‘Leave A Light On’ which is sure to be the drain on many a phone battery during their upcoming UK tour and the ‘The Man Who Stole A Leopard’ . This recalls the atmospheric beauty of ‘The Chauffer’ and is one of the finest Duran moments in years.
OK, so most of the tracks feel like the sequel to a ‘Rio’ counterpart but these are definitely ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ rather than ‘The Blair Witch Project 2: Book Of Shadows’ follow-ups. I love this album. Let the mocking begin.
Visit the official Duran Duran website for more info.