Enduring Duran (The Guardian)
As Duran Duran embark on yet another sell-out tour, Ben Marshall salutes an ongoing Britpop success
Duran Duran 2003
Flashy, but not a flash in the pan: the reunited original lineup of Duran Duran
Next week the original line-up of the seminal new romantic band Duran Duran begin their umpteenth American tour. The Las Vegas show sold out in six minutes, and Las Vegas is not short of glitzy competition. Los Angeles took a little longer, tickets disappearing within an hour of going on sale.
Duran Duran, always loud, flashy and cheesily glamorous, have, more than 20 years after their debut, made a flashy splash in the world capitals of glamour and cheese.
Last week, Tokyo, another city in love with tack, tramp, cash and flash, also set records, buying up over 8,000 Duran tickets in 30 minutes. This Britpop success (and Duran were Britpop before the term was ever coined) will come as a surprise only to us Brits for whom the band are little more than a dim and distant memory.
In America, however, Duran never really went away. They have recently been aided and abetted by the electroclash scene and the Marilyn Manson-led vanguard of slutty, synthetic neo-goth bands whose looks and hooks are, at least in part, inspired by the pouting, slap-faced excesses of Britpop circa 1983.
Depeche Mode, Culture Club, Soft Cell and, of course, the Duranies were all grist to the mill of the leather-clad Yanks who, blind with mascara and dumb with lipstick, now motivate America's blank de-generation.
Duran Duran, along with Echo And The Bunnymen and Tears For Fears, appear on the soundtrack of Donnie Darko - a teen movie that is as much about present-day Yank youth alienation as it is about the rapaciousness of Reagan years it purports to satirise.
Of course, Duran Duran, the least pretentious of their peers, would never have dared to predict that they might still be selling records and tickets, still currying fanatical interest (there are more than 50,000 websites devoted to them) almost 25 years after they bumped into one another at Birmingham's Rum Runner.
The five peacock punks who coalesced around a love of David Bowie, Roxy Music and George Clinton saw themselves as ephemeral, where their rivals, notably the god-awful Spandau Ballet, truly believed they were carving themselves a place in history.
Like other bands from Birmingham and the Black Country (Led Zep, Black Sabbath, Slade, the Charlatans), Duran Duran had an overweening sense of fun. They knew how to enjoy themselves. In a truly excessive decade, Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and the three Taylors (John, Roger and Andy) took excess to heroic, near-fatal levels.
They haemorrhaged cash, they married models, they took mountains of cocaine, they fell off yachts, they penned the theme to a James Bond movie but, above all they wrote great, astonishingly memorable rock'n'roll songs - racking up sales of 60m albums.
Each of the 20-odd tunes they are now touring with is as fresh, vital and inventive as the day they wrote it. Duran Duran are a great British pop band. Japan knows this, America knows this. Isn't it about time we woke up to the fact?
FROM THE STANDARD
They may have lost some of the gloss that made them the "wild boys" of the
Eighties but Duran Duran showed they can still pull in an audience when they played their first American concert in 18 years.For some of the band the road to getting on stage in Los Angeles was taken via the gym as they tried to shed the pounds - and last week they joked that they were taking hair and style tips from David Beckham.
While some complained that they still had a little way to go on the weight front, there was no doubting the excitement their return has generated.
Tickets for the 500-seat Roxy in West Hollywood sold out within minutes when they went on sale last month. Among those wanting ticketswere Brad
Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Nicolas Cage, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and Madonna. For the group it was a return to the club where they made their American debut in the early Eighties to be hailed as "The Second British Invasion". Lead singer Simon Le Bon said: "The Roxy is a very spiritual gig for us to play. It was the first venue we ever played in the US. It has just been extraordinary playing again. We still have an extraordinary chemistry between us. "It's great to be playing in front of excited fans again. The fans over here are quite hardcore. I did sign an American girl's buttock with a tattoo needle - it took ages and she did scream. They still camp outside my UK home." He added: "LA has been a city where we've seen a lot of craziness over the
years, though we're all just a little bit older now."
The band - Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and John, Roger and Andy Taylor - played classic tracks such as Hungry Like The Wolf, Rio and Is There Something I
Should Know - as well as songs from the new album due next year. The band, who last played together in the US for the 1985 Live Aid concert,
fddy will perform a second gig at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas next week.