Saturday 15 May 1993
Tower Records, Los Angeles 00:45
Tower Records, London 07:45
Having had to get up at the ridiculously early time of 6.15am on a Saturday morning, I was sincerely hoping that this unexpected freebie would be worth the effort. I had doubts, though. At most, I thought Duran would play three songs and then the satellite would break down so that the ‘question time’ wouldn’t take place. It was an ambitious project by EMI and Tower Records and I worried on their behalf as to how many people would be keen enough to turn up at such an early hour.
At 7.45 about 50 people greeted the Tower Records staff who let us in, We were led down in to the basement to an area where a big white screen had been set up. We were then told the band wouldn’t be playing for another half an hour, which gave the Tower Records staff enough time to not very discreetly cover up all their products so that we wouldn’t get out grubby mits on them. Duran Duran fans are obviously very dodgy people.
During our wait we got occasional glimpses of the band rehearsing, which was good as that was something the American fans did not get. Just before the band came on, Tony Dalty, the Top of the Pops presenter, bounded on to the little stage in front of the screen and informed us he would be our host. He told us what was going to happen and made us practice being loud enough to be heard in America. All pretty clichéd stuff.
The host in America was a horrible long-haired yob who would have been more at home hosting a Motorhead concert. Once we’d got through the rigmarole of him screeching ‘hello’ to all the cities involved (LA, Tokyo, Sydney, Berlin and us in London), the band started.
The set was about an hour long, much to everyone’s surprise, and consisted of excerpts from the live show they are currently touring around the world. They had their electric string section with them, along with a sultry backing singer (who Tony positively drooled over), playing the same arrangements of their songs that they used when they played here in March [the Dominion Theatre shows].
Although is was like watching a video, it was made more exciting by the host in LA yelling at us in London to shout ‘hello’ back, which Tony made comical by pretending there were about 3,000 of us. He had a hard job because it wasn’t always clear what was going on or what we were expected to do! But he glossed over it all and kept smiling.
Us hardcore fans made ourselves look completely ridiculous, it has to be said, by screaming and dancing as if we were actually in front of the band themselves. Duran were in fine form, the songs sounded brilliant in their new, melodic arrangements. There was one funny moment when Amanda de Cadenet’s face suddenly flashed across the screen and everyone spontaneously booed!
Throughout the show the picture was only lost once and was heroically fixed by a member of staff about a minute later. But I think he would have been pulled apart by a 100 (by that time) grieving fans is he hadn’t!
The question time (video below) was an absolute disaster and a complete waste of satellite time. Tony told us that Duran Duran wanted controversial and unusual questions. Each city was only allowed two questions and a regreattably nearly all of them were wasted with such stupid ones as “what did you call your daughter, Simon?” London came up with one good one and very embaressingly bad one. In a hurry to find a question, Tony shoved the microphone under this girl’s nose and she just yelled, “Nick, why did you marry Julie-Anne?” Nick looked contemptuous and I can’t say I blame him. I think several people in the room could have killed her. Question time ended lamely soon after that with the group looking most unhappy at the way it had gone, and they wandered off the LA stage.
On reflection I decided that the event had been worth it just for the music, the shambles at the end being the fault of the fans not of the organizers. It had been an interesting idea and I was pleased I’d made the effort, although it didn’t take much persuasion. Seeing my favourite band for free? I hadn’t needed to be asked twice!
This article first appeared in Cherry Lipstick Volume 1 Issue 2: July 1993
The full show (picture quality poor):
The interview (9 minutes)