To commemorate Duran Duran's 40th anniversary in 2018, Cherry Lipstick begins a series which revisits the scenes of 40 of their key shows. These may be celebrated or important or infamous. Imagine if they were to play these shows again, with those band members and the set lists from those nights!
So let's track Duran Duran's history through their concerts as we go around their world in 40 shows. The first 10 shows are here, with the next 30 to follow shortly.
1: ‘The Devils’, Barbarellas, Birmingham, 1 June 1979
In 2002, this first version of ‘Duran Duran’ was renamed the Devils and recorded a variety of tracks without 'Johnny' Taylor. Duran Duran's first show was on 5 April 1979 at Birmingham Polytechnic, but this show at Barbarellas is featured here. Why? Well, the club is where John and Nick saw Blondie in 1978 and with that name, it has to be included. It was their fourth ever gig, and Duran Mark 1 ended here. After the show, Stephen Duffy and Simon Colley walked out of the band leaving John and Nick bereft. (Nick and Duffy as The Devils would go on to record a track called ‘Barbarellas’).
Roger: I was in the audience at Barbarellas. They were supporting Fashion, but I was much more interested in what Duran were doing. I just thought: “This is going to be the next band that breaks out of Birmingham.” Dexy’s Midnight Runners and UB40 had broken out, and Duran Duran were next. And through the grapevine, I got a message to go and play with them. (2015)
Duffy: Being in that band was a mistake. Soon after I formed Duran Duran with John and Nick I left because it didn't seem very important. (1983) I went off to join this raving rock'n'roll group called TV Eye. I just wanted to do something different. I never really told John and Nick I didn't want to sing with Duran Duran anymore. I just kind of went off. I suppose it was cowardly really. (1985)
Nick's response to hearing Duffy and Colley had gone: Wankers (2012)
2: The Fab Five, the Rum Runner, Birmingham, 16 July 1980
13 months later… Hello, who’s this? Mr Le Bon arrives on stage. It’s a Wednesday night, and the Rum Runner crowd are seeing what they presumably assume is just the latest incarnation of the house band. Duran had first played the Rum Runner on 12 March (after which Andy Curtis quit).
Nick: We went onstage at that first gig to Tomorrow Belongs to Me from Cabaret. Bands using Nazi imagery was intended as sort of anti-establishment, wasn’t it? But I don’t think anybody really thought, as teenagers, about the implications. It was trying to shock the generation that went before, with all the McLaren-Westwood Seditionaries stuff. (2015)
John: That’s a delicate issue. It was aimed at parents who had fought in the war, their obsession, and their involvement. The wider implication became known later on. We didn’t have that level of awareness. Going onstage to that song is something that you would never do today. It was a mis-step. Let’s call it what it was. (2015)
Simon: [The first song was] a cover of “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer. I was so nervous the entire left hand side of my body was shaking for the duration of the show. (2001)
Roger: It was a tough audience that night, actually, because everybody thought they were cooler than we were. Everybody had their own thing, their own look. (2015)
Simon: We had a corps of 20 people at the front who were crazy for us. They were our supporters, and we were their band. (2015)
3: Marquee Club, London, 9 November 1980
The third time Duran Duran played a show outside of Birmingham (following two previous London shows on 18 February and 9 October). This was a more prestigious venue. Their world was opening up. They would return to the Marquee one month later as part of their first UK tour supporting Hazel O’Connor.
John: We got an agent in London, Rob Hallet at the Derek Block agency. He became our first champion in the capital… he represented UB40 and Dexy’s… he got us a coveted spot at London’s Marquee club. (2012)
U2 played their first Marquee show 2 months before Duran Duran
4: Brighton Dome, Brighton, 29 June 1981
Duran’s first UK tour had been in colleges and universities. Now they had a hit single and new album, booked in to larger venues (including Hammersmith Odeon). This was the first show on the Faster Than Light tour and things had changed, as the band realised as they went on stage...
John: The curtains opened at our first show [in Brighton] and there was this sea of screaming girls. I had no idea… It was just insanity and that set the base for the next three years. (1998)
Nick: When the screaming started, no one was more shocked than us. We'd come out of this background where our early shows were quite underground and cult-like. Our audience was a club audience. (2000) The content of our songs was hardly something that was going to appeal to a teen audience. We didn't know what to do about it to start with. (1998)
5. Capitaine Video Club, Paris, France, 8 September 1981
Duran’s first shows outside the UK. The 5-date tour started the previous day in Belgium and continued into Sweden and Holland. The show was broadcast on French radio and the story goes that due to this, EMI spent £9,000 on publicity and another £2,000 to get Duran fans from the Rum Runner to Paris to ensure there was a crowd!
You can download 6 of the songs (with a French radio DJ who seems to call the band ‘John John’) here
6. The Spit, Long Island, New York, USA, 16 September 1981
First show in the USA. The video screens in the US clubs would inspire the band to create a new art form for the music industry.
John: The [Spit] gig was amazing, jam-packed with kids who seemed to know all the songs from the album. They were friendly and enthusiastic and we felt at home. (2012)
7. Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide, Australia, 15 April 1982
After filming some videos in Sri Lanka, the band head off to the other side of the world to play their first show in Australia. It was also the first show of 1982 and the Rio tour. An unofficial live bootleg was recorded at the 18 April show in Melbourne.
8. Nihon Seinenkan Hall, Tokyo, Japan, 25 April 1982
From Australia, they flew to Japan, and this was their first show there. they then headed on to Antigua to complete their filming which set up the year so spectacularly. Rio was released on 10 May.
9. Hammersmith Odeon, London, 4 November 1982
The UK Rio tour started on 30 October and continued for one month until 1 December. In that time they played TWENTY SEVEN shows. This was the big one, filmed, recorded, played on BBC Radio 1 and a marvellous achievement.
Record Collector: Punters of a certain age will find the songs irresistible, while many of them still raise a chill. Live, Save A Prayer was boosted by Andy Taylor’s chorused arpeggios, while Duran’s excellent piano-driven cover of Come Up & See Me makes you wonder why their later covers album, Thank You, was so poor. Add in the usual crowd-pleasers (Rio, Hungry Like The Wolf, New Religion) and what was a world-class show back then is still a nostalgic pleasure now. (2009)
10. Villa Park Stadium, Birmingham, 23 July 1983
Almost 3 years to the day since Simon’s debut with the band in a nightclub, they started playing stadiums. A few days earlier they had met Princess Di. The after-show party was at the Rum Runner.
Mairead (Duran fan): Every Duranie had been looking forward to it for months. The queues were a mass of trilbies and tea-bag t-shirts… The evening passed in a blur. We weren't there to hear new material or hope Simon's voice held out - we wanted Duran... There was great music, but it was so much more about the moment - that time when Duran were as big as they came and we were there screaming for them. (1999)
Smash Hits: The screaming reaches such a pitch it makes your teeth ache. (1983)
Part 2: Shows 11-20 coming soon…
Duffy and Smash Hits review, 1983 from Smash Hits, 4 August 1983
Duffy (1985) tabloid newspaper, specific date and title unknown
John and Nick, 1998 from Goldmine magazine, January 1998
Mairead, 1999, from Cherry Lipstick Volume 2 Issue 12 April – June 1999
Nick 2000, from Record Buyer and Music Collector, September 2000
Simon, 2001 from Ask Katy, 10 August 2001
Record Collector, online DVD review, November 2009
John and Nick, 2012 from In The Pleasure Groove autobiography
Simon, Nick, John and Roger, 2015 from The Guardian, 10 September 2015
Concert information taken from: