When I was a teenager, I considered Duran Duran one of my favourite bands. The space in my study dedicated to D-squared wasn’t as big as, say, that devoted to Madonna or Michael Jackson, but the New Romantics did leave their fair share of Blu-Tac markings on all four walls.
Since joining the music industry as a journalist, I’ve enjoyed interviews with lead singer Simon Le Bon, talking about his heady days of partying, waxed lyrical about makeup and music-making with keyboardist Nick Rhodes, and swapped notes on a flight from LA to New York with bass-player John Taylor. Yes, fellow Duran fans have screamed with envy.
I’d only seen the band live once before last weekend’s performance at Sandalford Estate in WA’s stunning Swan Valley, and that was at the Future Music Festival in Sydney where Le Bon sounded somewhat croaky in the vocal department while the band’s set list consisted of few of their better hits. Suffice to say, the Sandalford gig blew me away.
Right from the get-go, the lads delivered a finely tuned and crisply produced set, selecting some of the better songs from their current album All You Need Is Now, but ensuring fans would hear just about every one of their single release successes.
Having the privilege of photographing Le Bon and the boys from just three feet away of stage centre, I felt like Nick Rhodes might have when he was rushing about with camera in hand in the video clip for A View To A Kill. That the song happened to be in the band’s opening few numbers only added to the glamorous snapperazzi vibe.
After three songs my job of photographing was complete and I joined a fellow Duranie mate in the audience to enjoy the rest of the show. But every time we went to sit down, a gem from the Duran archive would come pounding out of the speakers, and up in the air we were again, lip-synching to inane lyrics that once seemed terribly deep and meaningful, like “dancing on the Valentine”, “I smell like I sound”, and “the girls all love pulling dolly by the hair”. From Planet Earth to Notorious, Girls On Film to Girl Panic, there was plenty of flamboyant pop to get excited about.
There was, however, in the middle of the gig, a major stuff-up with the power, sending the stage into darkness and even seeing the bars shut down due to lack of refrigeration. But with graceful style, Le Bon insisted on taking a break until the generator was fully revved up again. Nobody seemed to mind the 20-minute interval, since they knew plenty of familiar tunes were yet to come.
Culminating in a final chapter that included Wild Boys and an encore that has all crooning to Rio, punters left the estate well elated. In fact, bumping into several girlfriends from high school at the end of the night, I wasn’t too surprised to hear them insistent on stalking the band members at their hotel. Ah, it’s like the Eighties never ended…
Review + photography: Antonino Tati