Duran Duran - Manchester MEN Arena - 17.4.04

Who there can truly admit they felt the original line-up of Duran Duran would ever grace the stage together again. It wasn’t as if there was fevered speculation ala the Stone Roses or The Smiths and they never had any secret public meetings ala the Spice Girls or Take That. There was just the sense that Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes would carry on with their Duran Duran tribute act with Warren Cuccurullo till the audience members got in such short supply that they disappeared when no-one was looking their way. In fact last time they played Manchester it was across the city at the Apollo to a 3/4's full auditorium and faint response from the audience after each song (Ed: Fact fans might want to know that the drummer from the support band that night, The Vegastones, has gone on to be the live drummer for Busted). Tonight however with all 5 original members back in the fray, they're in the midst of a sold out arena tour and tickets are changing hands for unbelievable amounts on Ebay - Duran Duran are truly back and you can stick your Here and Now tour up where the sun don't shine.

As the lights dim and five shadows walk to the front of the stage the anticipation is overwhelming, it's like something out of Close Encounter meets the Weakest link. Roger Taylor, check. Andy Taylor, check. Nick Rhodes, check. John Taylor, check. Le Bon, check. As each of the five members waved and walked back to their instruments the screams from the female members of the audience matches the hysteria of any of today's "pop idols". Duran Duran were the band who did it all first of course though - the expensive videos, the style and the women long before marketing bods got in the act and took very aesthetic beauty out of it all and replaced it with bland asexual puppets ala Westlife. "Sunrise" kicks off what was going to be a clear game of two halves. A splattering of songs unbeknown to most apart from the die-hard Durannies make up the first half of set along with a new song "What Happens Tomorrow", inspired by the Iraq War and admittedly far from the best song they've ever written. While most of the band seem to be relaxed on stage in that kind of louche cool they've always had, Andy Taylor genuinely seems like Nicky Chinn from The League Of Gentlemen - over eager to get at the front of the stage as if it's his last ever chance to prove himself.

For me the highlight of the set is "Ordinary World", the bands only hit from the 90s as Matt Lucas and David Walliams used to jest on Rock Profile, but every single audience member could have picked a different song in a near 2 hour set. "Save A Prayer" had the mobile phones waved in an oh so noughties fashion, "Notorious" reminded us younger audience members of the sleign B.I.G and the final four (Wild Boys, White Lines, Girls On Film, Rio) leaded us to the end of a stunning show.

So where do Duran Duran go now and can they ever recapture the exuberant spirit in their new material? Will they make this a regular cash cow slot ala Madness or leave our memories of a stunning comeback in tact. In the spirit of Duran Duran lets live for the moment, cherish the lifestyle and give the name about the future another time.

Alex McCann

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