Greater than the act itself… the moment of anticipation...
And it doesn't get much more anticipating than the lights going down, the pre-show music stops… and shadows appear at the back of the stage...
Which brings us to the opening song of our evening. So which songs have Duran chosen to lead off this greatest of events? Last weekend on Twitter, Cherry Lipstick readers voted in our World Cup of Opening Tracks from those tours over the past 40 years.
The bottom 4:
Silva Halo (1999) took the wooden spoon and one has to feel this is deserved. An unpopular song from an unpopular album leading a show that would showcase unreleased new songs. Apart from that it’s a winner. Unsurprisingly, next was Last Day on Earth (2000) from the subsequent tour of unpopular songs from an unpopular album. A track about the end of the world is not really a party-starter. Medazzaland (1997) was a more obvious choice to open a show, as it heralded the start of a set that was heavily based around that album. It just wasn’t really something you might want to hear live. Duran's other least popular album, Red Carpet Massacre, provides the concluding track of this section. Despite that, The Valley (2007) managed to attract a fair few votes.
Also out in the group stage:
We now move into openers that were bigger hitters, and none more so, perhaps than Hungry Like The Wolf (2005). This is Duran’s most played song, and was the opener on one leg of the Astronaut tour (aka The Slam Dunk Tour). I wonder it we all know Hungry… as a track that usually features at number 3 or 4 in the batting order on concert day, after a couple of ‘new ones’ to get us started. Before The Rain (2011), is a fine track, but not, perhaps, a show-starter. Anyone Out There (1980) was, of course, the opening song on 5 July 1980 at the Rum Runner. It may have scored poorly as it has historical, rather than fun, value. The one that got unlucky was Paper Gods (2015). A real stunning performance (musically and visually) that is fresh in our memories. But it got knocked out (just) by Big Thing, perhaps because in 1988 you could enjoy both Big Thing and I Don’t Want Your Love by the time Paper Gods had finished.
It’s not often Rio (1982) scores poorly, but you wonder if that is because the question was about the quality of show openers. No doubt a similar poll of the best show closers would see a higher position. Interestingly, the band seem not to have been sure what to do with Rio during the 1980s. It came out as the 4th single at Christmas (!) in 1982, and was not even played on the Strange Behaviour tour. The video seemed to hang heavy for a long while over the band, with complaints about getting wet and a general fight against that imagery of the yacht. We live in a different time in 2018. Big Thing (1988) performed well in the poll for an album track off a poorly-selling album. Two other major hits fell at this stage. A View To A Kill (1987) made it through from the horrors of Live Aid to re-announce the band in 1987. Sunrise (2003) was the (then unreleased) opener on the 2003 Reunion tour. It shows the strength of the finalists that they didn’t make the top 4.
Too Much Information (1993) was an obvious choice to blast out the start of the cathartic Wedding Album tour – a bravado shout to the critics and our heroes reclaimed centre stage. I have to say I thought Planet Earth (1998) was magnificent at the UK's Greatest and Latest tour. I can only presume that this will be the opener on the night of the last ever show. It should be. Your Runner-Up was Friends of Mine (1981). It got another outing as the lead song at various shows in the 2003–05 shows. The spikiness of it showed off Duran's punk heritage, while the bounce of the chorus pointed forward to the pop glories to come.
Which leaves your World Cup winner - Is There Something I Should Know (1984). Maybe it was obvious. And maybe it was obvious for very good reasons. Certainly it sounds far better on Arena than the rinky-dink single version. Cue Sing Blue Silver and that power-pop chorus from Simon and Andy…
Now read more:
The Cherry Lipstick album review of Arena
Live and Let Die - the songs played live that have never been released