Duran Duran in Hyde Park 10.7.2022 with Nike Rodgers and Chic; Aurora; Laura Mvula and Rozzi
Back in October 1980 I stumbled upon what was one of Duran Duran’s first gigs outside their native Birmingham. I went to the Lyceum, just off The Strand, to see Pauline Murray and the Invisible Girls – it was a double headline with both Pauline Murray and John Cooper Clarke being backed by the Invisible Girls. The Durutti Column were the named support – we were in early to lean on the front barrier. (I was with two mates from school Wayne and Paul).
But first… who’s this? They look a bit like Japan. Flamboyant clothes and powdered faces and a bit of eyeliner. “Ladies and gentlemen – give a big London welcome to Duran Duran.” They sounded alright. Quite poppy. Months later, in February 1981, they released Planet Earth and then they hit Top of the Pops – jaws dropped, “we’ve seen that lot”.
Later that year I found myself in Birmingham as a student, a city I stayed in for seven years, and where Duran Duran songs began to infiltrate my mind. The hits kept coming. They were played everywhere: nightclubs, pub juke boxes, 80s discos. (No they weren’t actually called 80s discos in the 80s – they just were.)
I even went to the legendary Duran Duran hangout, The Rum Runner on Broad Street – only once that I recall. It was packed and the erotic film Caligula was playing on tv screens throughout the club. It was knocked down in 1987, the year I left the city.
That was it. I never bought any records. I never saw them, or even contemplated it, but the Duran Duran boys were a classic 80s backdrop sound. Nearly 42 years since that first chance gig I’m here in Hyde Park after taking gig buddy Dave up on an offer of some tickets bought a few years ago, before we were locked down. Here in the garden area to the side of the stage with access to stage front. It is bloody hot mind. Everyone is flocking together under any available shade.
Singer songwriter Rozzi, 19 and from San Francisco sounded pretty good from the shaded bar area and I should have shifted earlier into the burning sun at the front of the stage. I was moved to see Laura Mvula while a lot of the audience, especially the front section, were keeping out of the way in the shade. This is a bit of a problem with the divided ticketed areas and Laura commented wondering where everyone was. I found myself stood just back from previous act Rozzi to watch.
A reminder of who is on next from the t-shirt in front and next up that is Aurora.
Aurora is Norwegian. Intensely Norwegian I’d say. A fairytale appearance and a Bjork-like high singing voice (and a squeaky speaking voice). I watched open mouthed I suspect.
All this is passing the time pleasantly but not much more than that. I started to wish I’d come out to see Rozzi first.
The interest cranks up a notch when Nile Rodgers takes to the stage with Chic – whoever Chic are these days . The crowds pile in from the bar areas. I caught the end of Nile Rodgers at Victorious Festival last year and thought I’d missed something.
I’m no Chic boogie man but I was intrigued to see this set. It started with a string of Chic songs including Everybody Dance and I Want Your Love and then Nile Rodgers started to talk about and play some of the songs he wrote for and with others: I’m Coming Out (Diana Ross); The Greatest Dancer and one I really do like We Are Family (Sister Sledge) and on to some Madonna with Like a Virgin and Material Girl. I didn’t know he wrote all this stuff. Interesting intros and explanations.
Everyone enjoyed this live juke box performance in the sun. A few Bowie songs: Modern Love and Let’s Dance and the alarmingly catchy song written with Daft Punk, Get Lucky.
Yes they/he did do the Chic trade mark number Le Freak. I enjoyed this expansion of my musical education.
And on to the main event – Duran Duran, some 42 years after my first sighting. I was surprised. I didn’t know what to expect. Simon Le Bon didn’t come out of the Queen’s Jubilee concert very well – his voice sounded weak at that. But what was delivered here could not have been better, I don’t think.
I really don’t know any of their album material. The singles though have got engrained in me over four decades, so playing those was always going to be the winning bit for me.
The chant of Wild Boys to start and they’re off. Top start. My pick would have been their Bond film song, View to a Kill. Great song. Other top early half choices were Union of the Snake and Hungry Like the Wolf (which I nearly missed as I had sloped off to grab some food ironically).
Nile Rodgers came on to help out on a few, including Notorious (he produced and played on that album) and Pressure Off (which he co-wrote and co-produced).
Singles Reflex and Planet Earth, that first breakthrough chart hit, helped the build up to the encores of Save a Prayer and, of course, Rio.
I can’t imagine seeing Duran Duran better than that. My curiosity, after 42 years, is satisfied. I don’t need to see them again. That was just great.
(I have now acquired a greatest hits album for 50p from a local charity shop.)