Around the World in 40 Shows: 11-20 / 1984-1991

Cherry Lipstick tracks the history of Duran Duran through 40 key live performances from around the world. Part 1 (shows 1-10) covered 1979 to 1983, from the time of Rhodes-Taylor-Duffey, via the Rum Runner and the first tours of Australia and America, back to Birmingham and their stadium show in July 1983.

Part 2 picks up the story 5 months later, still in Birmingham, as the Sing Blue Silver tour kicks on, and a famous magazine is covering the band…

11. NEC, Birmingham, UK, 12 December 1983

A few short months after Villa Park, Duran were back home once again, but this time with the reporter from Rolling Stone accompanying them for their famous cover story. The Sing Blue Silver tour was exactly one month old and still had four months to go, including the conquering of America…

Rolling Stone: When the lights went down, the crowd, of course, went nuts. It was the kind of scene that's been played over and over again in pop music, from Frank Sinatra to Elvis Presley to the Beatles. Girls crying. Girls fainting. Girls screaming. At times, the audience created such a din that even if one could hear the band's music, it was impossible to concentrate on it. (1984)

Jo Griffiths (Duran fan): NEC Dec 1983 was my very first DD concert. Started my period the same day - those boys brought me into womanhood. Too much information???? (2016)

12. Madison Square Garden, New York, USA, 19 March 1984

Fulfilling Nick’s pledge: Hammersmith ’82, Wembley ’83, MSG ’84. To celebrate, they forced Cracks In The Pavement AND Seventh Stranger on the adoring crowd. This show (20,000+ tickets) sold out in 3 hours. And that was before bots were spamming Ticketmaster (which you shouldn’t say if you ever time-travel back to 1984).

John: I never felt more like a pawn in someone else’s game than backstage at the Garden that first night, because the music business was there in person letting us know that they had a lot of money invested in this and they couldn’t afford for us to fuck it up for them. (2012)

Andy: It’s the dream you have when you’re a kid. It’s the most prestigious gig in the world. Spandau Ballet aren’t playing Madison Square Garden. We are. (1984)

Melody Maker: The intro tape starts and I feel sick and giddy. The screaming’s so loud my hearing’s impaired and my balance is going. (1984)

John: Stepping out onto that stage the first time, it was impossible not to be awed by the size. It was the height above all else. (2012)

Smash Hits: 25,000 people are all standing on their seats well before the curtain goes up. Oddly, they look exactly like a British Duran audience with hundreds of JT trilbies in evidence. The main difference is in the wording of the banners. “JT Kicks Ass,” suggests one. “Hop On Me Froggie,” begs another, with a rather rude rendition of the same request on the other side… Duran run through their performance with a relaxed ease. [With] the energy they still bring to it and the improved technical effects, you have a show about 10 times as exciting as the one I saw at Wembley. “The shows got really American,” says John (1984)

Nick: I thought it was a thrill, personally. We were actually quite tense for the first time in ages. (1984)

John: What’s next? I dunno… Shea Stadium? (1984)

One year later…

13. The Power Station, The Ritz, New York, USA, 1 July 1985

The great ’85 split writ large as half the band go off and do their own thing, whilst telling the world how much more fun it is than being in Duran Duran.

Smash Hits: Judging by this ‘secret gig’ at the Ritz it would be a dull world if The Power Station didn’t tour… Andy is, surprisingly, a fantastic musician… John’s bass backdrop was solid and never too heavy… Ace covers of Dancing in the Street and The Reflex left the crowd gawping.” (1985)

14. Live Aid: JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, USA, 13 July 1985

The Greatest Show On Earth ends up like a twisted New Year’s Eve trick. Out with the old (good stuff), in with the new (rest of your life).

Simon: I remember it was really nice to see you guys [John and Andy] at rehearsals for Live Aid. I felt a real warmth from you both and there wasn’t any animosity. (2015)

John: Our relationships hadn’t got any better [since March] but at the rehearsals the tensions melted away (2012). I already knew the Power Station was at a dead end so I was quite happy to be in Duran Duran for a day. (2015)

Andy: The rehearsals were a disaster (2009)

Simon: We wanted to do London! But Bob Geldof said: “We need someone big to do the American show.” Just to help get people on board. (2015)

Andy: Inside the limo [to the stadium] we sat in silence, as if we were going to a funeral. (2009)

John: The Power Station had technical problems, and my feet didn’t touch the ground for the whole 12 minutes. You were so caught up in the frenzy of how many million people were watching. By the time Duran went on, I’d kind of settled. (2015)

Simon: I envied that. John said: “It’s quite rough out there but we’re gonna be OK.” (2015)

Smash Hits: The Power Station feature horrid axe solos, feverish on stage struttings and boundless onstage determination. (1985)

Simon: I was so nervous, for the entire time we were onstage. (2015)

Nick: I thought we went pretty well, considering. It was difficult for all acts, but we have a lot of technology, and we didn’t have in-ear monitoring, so I was almost rigid with fear. I couldn’t hear anything at all of the sound, and I was turning round looking at Roger to see where we were. (2015)

Simon: At the time, I was horrified by it. But now, I don’t give a fuck, to be honest. It’s a bum note. People hit them. The reason it happened is that it was in a very high key. We’d rehearsed Wednesday, Thursday and Friday all day, and so my voice was shot to pieces by the Saturday. And so, “The fatal kiss is all we neeeeeeed …” (2015)

John: You know, it’s funny, but that note has cast a shadow over the whole performance, which is unfair. (2015)

Andy: It’s possible his voice wasn’t fully trained because he’d been off the road for so long. (2009)

Roger: Afterwards, there was just a sense of relief that we’d got through it and come out the other end. (2015)

Smash Hits: Duran give a pretty reluctant and unconvincing performance (1985)

Andy: When we came off stage there were no congratulatory hugs or friendly smiles. It was like we were completely foreign to each other… the following day I gave up drinking. (2009)

Two years later…

15. Stadio Comunale della Favorita, Palermo, Italy, 28 May 1987

Duran’s first ever show in Italy. John names it as the Strange Behaviour ‘tour opener’ in his autobiography, but the tour had actually started two months previously in Japan on 16 March. The band had then played in Europe and the UK. This was the first tour since Sing Blue Silver had finished in America in April 1984, and the first without Andy and Roger. John remembers this show because of the high-profile mafia trials that were going on at the same time in Palermo:

John: We were herded into an armoured police bus... and waited in the hotel until show time. We were accompanied by a half dozen motorcycle outriders and a handful of police cars all flashing lights and honking horns… above us hovered a police helicopter. We played all the big guns from the first three albums, beefed up with a three-piece horn section… Italy has never stopped gifting us. We have had some of our best times there. While international fame faltered, we found a new friend in Italy, who went a long way to convincing us that we were as valid as a threesome as we had been as a quintet. (2012)

16. Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 7 August 1987

First show in Central America. The Strange Behaviour tour was the first in which Duran really played in unfamiliar places around the world.

No photos, but perhaps you can join in with these guys:

17. Hollywood Rock, Praca da Apoteosa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 8 January 1988

First show in South America. Part of the live video ‘Working For The Skin Trade’ comes from this show. Duran were joint headliners of the 4-day event along with Supertramp, Simple Minds and The Pretenders. As you may have guessed, Rio was played – but you may not have guessed this was for the only time of the tour.

Due to the band’s appearance at this event, A Matter Of Feeling was released as a single. And that’s why it appeared on the Brazilian edition of Decade instead of All She Wants Is. (2016)

Rolling Stone: Working For The Skin Trade DVD features a gauzily shot 1987 show filled with rakish charm and leather trousers. (2010)

Pop Matters: The 1987 show finds the band still swaggering along like more polished versions of their 1984 selves, with new guitarist Warren Cuccurullo doing enough rock-god posturing for three Andy Taylors. The show is classy and impressive, even if the brass section detracts from some of the old hits. (2010)

18. The Krush Brothers, Town and Country Club, London, UK, 22 December 1988

A name chosen by their then-manager Peter Rudge and used so the music stations wouldn’t know it was by Duran. The band knew they had a reduced status despite the general success of the Strange Behaviour tour (which had included two more nights at Madison Square Garden). The Big Thing tour started in the US in October 1988 playing hit-and-run shows in reduced capacity venues and car parks (the ‘Nine City Caravan Club’ tour). ‘The Krush Brothers’ played just twice (here and in France), and preceded a pair of ‘Duranduran’ UK Christmas shows on the following two days at Wembley and Birmingham.

The Guardian: Duran squared up to the challenge and raised their game. Simon Le Bon had pruned the preening and the prancing to a minimum and both his voice and his presence seemed much enhanced as a result. The band set about demonstrating the strengths of their new songs, while racing through half a dozen specimens of their chartbusting heyday. The opener, Big Thing, came rumbling out across the floor like an armoured fighting vehicle… They peaked with Rio and dashed off, as the house lights swiftly damped yelps for encores. Duran had delivered a swift and effective pre-emptive strike.” (1988)

19. Smukfest, Skanderborg Festival, Aarhus, Denmark, 13 August 1989

Earlier in ’89 there had been a South East Asian leg including South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines with the Big Thing tour ending in the UK in April. After a few months break (when they started the writing for Liberty), Duran played a few festivals in Europe. ‘Smukfest’ would be the last full live set they would perform until 1993, and the last show with Sterling. It was generally the same Big Thing set list, but with three new additions – Yo Bad Azizi, My Family and Venice Drowning. Venice Drowning was actually the OPENING TRACK. To a festival crowd. Maybe they liked it. Maybe. But it’s never been played again.

The festival was in its 10th year with 20,000 attending. The website says there were too many people for the festival’s facilities to manage “and meant many never returning.”

The website’s translation facilities from Danish to English also seem to be struggling a little:

“This is a year where there's been screwed up for all the expense heavy cocks: It has become more expensive to make festival. The cost of music has increased, and many other items are also the race up. The Festival is, in short, has become a big business.”

OK, we mock, but my Danish is not too great – here’s a pic from the festival:

Two years later…

20: Jerusalem for Reconciliation Concert, Royal Albert Hall, London, UK, 28 April 1991

Liberty has crashed, Sterling has gone, but there is one new song that’s worth a listen at the first live performance since Smukfest. It’s a three-song show for a charity concert in London featuring the first play of Ordinary World, plus Do You Believe In Shame and Gimme Some Truth (John Lennon cover). John Jones (producer of the Wedding Album and Thank You) is on piano.

It’s the last live performance until December 1992.


NEC 1983

Rolling Stone, ‘Middle Class Heroes’, James Henke, 2 Feb 1984

Jo Griffiths, FaceBook, 8 September 2016 (used with permission and thanks)

MSG 1984

John, Nick, Andy, Melody Maker, ‘Duran Duran in New York New York’, Steve Sutherland, 7 April 1984

Andy, Wild Boy autobiography, 2009

John, In The Pleasure Groove autobiography, 2012

Smash Hits, ‘Duran Ya Making Us Crazy!’ David Rimmer, April 1984

Power Station

Smash Hits, Ritz live review, June 1985

Live Aid

Smash Hits, Live Aid, July 1985

Andy, Wild Boy autobiography, 2009

John, In The Pleasure Groove autobiography, 2012

Simon, John, Nick, Roger, The Guardian, 10 September 2015

Italy 1987

John, In The Pleasure Groove autobiography, 2012

Brazil 1988:

Rolling Stone, Caryn Ganz, 10 October 2010

Pop Matters, John Bergstrom, 21 October 2010

(both are reviews of the Notorious 3CD re-issue, including Working For The Skin Trade DVD)


Krush Brothers 1988:

The Guardian ‘Duran The Durable’ Adam Sweeting, 23/24 December 1988

Shows taken from and

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