Duran Duran: The Wild Boys Head to Dubai

Press

Loss of voice is always a risk for successful pop singers.

But the manner in which the Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon sustained his loss would cause nightmares to fellow musicians.

It struck during the band's rendition of their hit Hungry Like the Wolf in front a packed show in Cannes last May. Le Bon was gearing up to deliver the song's famous full-throttle chorus, except nothing came out.

"It was so shocking, so unexpected," recalls Le Bon. "I did experience voice problems before but usually it occurs incrementally. It occurs due to a heavy schedule, a lot of singing, it starts to get slowly bad. This happened once in a show, I couldn't sing so I had to leave the stage but this time I was singing fine until a point and it just went bang!"

Le Bon somehow managed to finish the show with most of his upper range incapacitated; a real problem when the band's trademark is its soaring choruses.

However, worse than the newspaper headlines - "Le Bon's voice is Le Gone!" cried a London tabloid - was the fact that they had just begun touring their latest back-to-form album All You Need Is Now. The band had to cancel all remaining dates while Le Bon recovered from damaging his vocal cords.

He explains not being able to sing for at least three months produced uncomfortable bouts of soul searching.

"I felt like I lost my purpose," he admits. "I didn't realise before it happened how much I defined myself as a singer.

"You begin to revaluate your worth, purpose and who you are in a way." After months of rehabilitation working with a voice therapist, the band slowly eased their way back to the limelight earlier this year with a well-received European tour.

The group will kick off their latest run of shows in Dubai next Thursday at The Sevens Stadium.

Le Bon states spirits are high within the group despite last year's disappointment. He was also looking forward to mastering the new singing techniques obtained from the rehab sessions.

"From the voice therapist, I learnt a lot of good stuff," he says. "She taught me great techniques and a new way of singing."

The tour finds the group in an unusual situation of performing songs that feel fresh to them but familiar to fans.

"It does feel like we are trying to play catch-up, the album still feels very new to us," he says. "But there are some favourites on this new album. We can hear that when we play."

One of which is their latest single Girl Panic! featuring The Scissors Sisters Ana Matronic. The track sounds like vintage Duran Duran, with it's swaggering synths and Le Bon's passionate vocals. Even the super-slick video taps into the group's famed 1980s, starring a bevy of supermodels including Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen, Cindy Crawford and Eva Herzigova.

Le Bon says the band's return to their 1980s roots - after the ill-inspired foray into R&B with the 2007 album Red Carpet Massacre - was largely inspired by All You Need is Now's producer and lifelong fan Mark Ronson.

"He was very strong minded," says Le Bon. "He was determined to create an album that fans will connect with."

Was that tough to take, especially from a young hotshot producer?

"Not really. I really did give everything to Red Carpet Massacre and working with Timberland and Justin Timberlake. But at the end we created a white-urban album. Frankly, it's not what our fans wanted to hear, so in a way we screwed up a little bit."

Ronson also pushed the band "to reclaim our territory", one currently dominated by the likes of Franz Ferdinand, The Kaiser Chiefs and The Killers.

"But I didn't view it that way," Le Bon says. "I just wanted to make a record that sounded good. I don't think of these bands mentioned as Duran Duran's territory. I think of it as music I understand and like."

Le Bon says he doesn't bother thinking about what defines Duran Duran's sound. He rebuffs the suggestion it could be partly due to the sky-scraping choruses and that many songs act as markers in many fans' lives.

"Not really," he laughs. "Each song is a story that I am telling. It's this urge to communicate, that's what it is all about for me. I don't have this overview of what is going on. It is difficult to stand on stage and actually do the job without starting to think of what it means to people while you are doing it."

Duran Duran perform on Thursday at The Sevens Stadium, Dubai. Tickets start from Dh300 from www.timeouttickets.com. Doors open 6pm, show starts 9pm

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