On the afternoon of 5th March 1983 I took my 13 year old self to meet my best friend, Gemma, on our favourite bench in Littlehampton. We liked it because it was situated on the corner of three roads – plenty (of boys) to look at as we sat and chatted about life and Cola flavoured lip gloss.
This day was a bit different though. This day I was approaching the bench with a confession, a secret, something I had to unburden in the interest of friendship even though I didn’t know what the reaction would be.
I took a deep breath and went for it
“I think I am a Duranie!”
There was a beat of no response and so I ploughed on
“They were on Saturday Superstore this morning and they were so funny and the songs are really good and Simon Le Bon is HANDSOME…!”
I studied Gemma anxiously waiting to see if that was going to be the end of our teen bench assignations
“Oh my God, I watched that too – they were amazing, I really love them now!”
Phew, we were on the same page. Having spent the months prior to this date priding ourselves on our scorn of Duran Duran and anyone who liked them, we had both been fully converted in the space of a morning. All it took was Mike Read and Sarah Greene to bring us round.
Having come out and proud with my new Duranie status I embraced it with gusto. Frilly shirts, funny hair, little hearts painstakingly painted on my cheekbone. Posters went up, day dreams were crafted and lyrics were learnt. My affections moved from Simon Le Bon to John Talyor with a short lived stop at Roger.
As I got older and tried to be cooler my exuberance died down a bit, but I remained a fan over the years. How exciting that last night I was at the Bournemouth International Centre to see Duran Duran on their Paper Gods tour.
The venue was sold out with a mixed bag of an audience, fans from all eras of the bands history plus the obligatory gangs of girls on a night out – everyone in high spirits. We gave the support act (The Bloom Twins) a polite go but after two songs retreated back to the bar. It was like watching French and Saunders doing some sort of parody of a 1980s synth combo but without the funny bits.
No matter, we weren’t there for the support, we were there for the band, and when they burst onto the stage opening with Paper Gods we were not disappointed. They powered through the set mixing new material with old favourites, maintaining an energy that was pretty impressive given that they are all happily rocking their way to the big 60. It can’t be denied that they all look older, but so do the rest of us, to be fair. Simon Le Bon has cultivated a fine line in Dad Dancing which was quite endearing as pretty much everyone in the audience could identify with it. After a fantastic performance of ‘Planet Earth’ he brought us all right back down to earth by saying that they wrote that song 35 years ago. 35 years! There are people on the Jeremy Kyle Show who have been born, had children and grandchildren in that time. For God’s sake man, why remind us of that, don’t you know that while we were lost in that song we were all young again, if only in our own imaginations?!
We bounced from ‘Come Undone’ to ‘Pressure Off’ to ‘Notorious’, the band sounded as fresh and current as anyone with a fraction of their musical mileage. A crowd pleasing encore of ‘Save a Prayer’ and ‘Rio’ sent us into the night feeling, quite rightly, that we had spent the evening in the company of Pop Royalty. Brilliant.
As we shuffled out to the car park I had to laugh when a lady in the queue behind me turned to her friend and said “how is it that I can’t remember what I did yesterday but I can happily belt out all the words to a song that I first heard 35 years ago?” That probably summed up the audience demographic but it also highlighted the exact reason why were all still there 35 years on, because great bands make great music that has staying power, year after year.
Oh, and for the record, John Taylor has still totally got it. Just saying.