Rotterdam, Holland: 4th September 1993
Looking back at a key date in the history of Duran Duran.
1993 had been going so well. Two international smash hits, an album selling across the world, a joyous American tour, and now Europe was in the band’s sights.
The original concert review of this concert was published in Cherry Lipstick just two weeks after the show. Then the bootleg was available (from which the spoken words are taken) and the original article was edited to include transcripts from the show. This composite article was published in 'The Best of Cherry Lipstick Vol 1' in November 1997.
What a nightmare! Whoever said Friday 13th was unliucky was an idiot – Saturday 4th is ten times more horrific.
I’d had mixed feelings about this day when I first heard about in June. On the one hand it was of course fantastic that Duran were to perform in Holland. But I was a bit concerned about the Levi's bit. Mr Levi Strauss had decided had decided to give a concert partly for employees and business associates and partly for Joe Public. My initial happiness decreased further when I found out The Pilgrims and Betty Goes Green were to be playing (= a lot of senseless noise) and even worse, MTV’s hopeless presenter, Dutch-American Adam Curry, was to be presenting it all.
The day started by catching the wrong train to Amsterdam which set the tone for the rest of the day…
Once in Amsterdam I met Esther and Cindy (co-editors of the Dutch Go Duran) and went to the Amstel hotel where Duran were staying. It is one of the most expensive hotels in Holland (£400-500 a night) and very snobbish. Back in March they'd let us in as long as we behaved ourselves and ordered a drink, but this time they just lied and said the band wasn't there. Eventually we got inside but left after four hours of waiting.
We weren't very interested in the support bands, so waited outside for Duran. They were supposed to arrive at 9:30pm, but being big-headed pop stars they were late. At 10.15 there was a skirmish of photographers so we guessed they were all in. We ran inside and managed to get fairly near the front. The fans were all clustered up close but we were just to the side so we could see perfectly. It wasn’t that surprising really because the Levi’s people (on the whole non-Duran) fans very kindly let us pass.
The band came on stage to the usual applause and Simon then went to a lengthy half-spoken half-sung U2-style introduction. “There’s the stranger in our room to kiss me when I need. She gives me sex, she gives me violence, when I reach out and touch the smooth black plastic of her skin… and I know this is love, the real thing, just me and my TV…” This then launches into Too Much Information!
The vocals on Too Much Information sounded normal, but towards the end of the “Got to give it to me,” part he sounded distinctly croaky. However I'd heard worse and Simon does have a habit of croaking a few notes in the early part of the concert.
Then Hungry Like The Wolf starts in its new acoustic form. “Dark is the city…” sings Simon, and gets into the song as normal.
Then: “I’m on the hunt I’m after you… stop, stop.”
John laughed, so we thought someone had made a mistake. Warren continued playing, but Simon looked really pissed off, and yelled to Warren, "Warren, STOP!"
OK, so it wasn't a missed chord, it was something else. My first thought was that he was disappointed with the audience. He told us he had no voice so I thought he wanted us to sing louder and he was annoyed by inactive people. But he said, "guys I'm really sorry I'm losing my voice. It's kind of gone already and I don't think I can sing anymore. I'm doing you guys a disservice by playing a show that isn't up to it. OK, thank you, good night." It went totally quiet - maybe it didn't I was so shocked. Listening again to the tape of the show, I heard catcalls and whistles following the announcement. After 30 seconds Warren said, "We'll be right back." The band followed Simon offstage.
After 30 minutes Adam Curry told us that a doctor was seeing Simon and that the rest of the band would be back on stage. Thank God they didn't leave it any longer as the whistling and yelling was really awful, and I felt downright miserable. I think they'd have lost half their remaining fans if they hadn't come back.
John said to us, "in the absence of Simon we'd like to introduce you as singer Miss Lamya Al Mugheiry." They tuned up and then came the familiar intro to Come Undone. Lamya was incredibly nervous and giggly and the crowd really warmed to her realising the awful task she had of replacing Simon. Come Undone was wonderful. John and Warren encouraged Lamya with lots of smiles and Warren really sang his heart out. When he sang "we'll try to stay wild..." He sounded almost identical to Simon. The song ended with John saying "such a singer, such a singer."
There was then a short break for discussion amongst the band before they launched into Notorious. They added the Sexy MF bit again and it was... wow! Lamya got the lyrics mixed up "Bear your seedy judgements, who says they don't compromise?") But the crowd yelled as loud as ever during the "Girls will keep the secrets - SCREAM!" and "Grand Notorious slam - BAM!" parts.
There was then another discussion for a few minutes while Nick and Lamya started fooling around. They were 'intimately whispering' and John had to butt in and ask them to save it til after the show! John then asked her if she knew White Lines, to which she coyly replied, "Yeees..." It sounded fantastic, and even the VIP area woke up. It ended with John saying, "Cocaine - don't do it."
They seemed to have difficulty deciding what to do next. Nick suggested Love Voodoo, but this was rejected. Then Nick said, "there's only one song left we felt we could play you with any real confidence, and this song goes out to Simon."
Forget the album version, forget the acoustic version, forget the MTV movie awards, THIS was THE Ordinary World. Warren's guitar solo after Lamya's beautiful "sorrowed talk" was about as melancholic as it can get and it was very emotional... Exquisite... perfect.
And that was it. "Thanks, we'll be back another time thanks a lot guys," said a dejected JT as they left the stage. "Simon is so disappointed he wants to make it up to you. It's the first time it's happened in 13 years. We'll be back to make it up to you. Sorry," said Nick.
The show they gave was excellent. It felt like they could get rid of SLB and replace him with Lamya any time (SORRY!!!). But they only played five and half songs and the atmosphere was greatly ruined. Considering that SLB is the most active part of a Duran show, they gave a great performance, but it wasn't the same. On top of our previous disappointment of not meeting the band, we were pretty miserable. We were allowed a free article of Levi's clothing from any store, but I wanted Simon's voice!
Esther was at the Amstel Hotel the next morning. Duran were very subdued and kept apologizing, but posed for photos for the fans. Simon looked wretched and had apparently been told not to speak for three days.
I know this isn't normal in a review, but I'd like to say thank you to Lamya for her wonderful performance. She was great, I also have to confess that I didn't believe Simon at first. Looking back on it now I realize he was just pissed off for having to go off-stage. Sorry Simon – I hope the voice comes back soon!
AN INTERVIEW WITH LAMYA THE NEXT DAY IN THE DUTCH MAGAZINE 'HITKRANT'
“The audience was really great. I was improvising though, because I didn't know all the lyrics to the songs, but, well, I counted on the audience. The Duran Duran fans are really great! I wasn't nervous, there wasn't time for that.”
There was a message from Simon as well:
“It's awful to admit it, but Duran Duran have never sounded so good.”
Lamya was born in Kenya and grew up in Sheffield, England. She joined the Wedding Album tour in 1993, travelling across the world with the band in that incredible year for Duran Duran.
She tragically died, aged 35, in January 2009. Simon paid this tribute to her:
“I can honestly say that hers was one of the best voices I’ve ever heard. Working with her was always easy because she had such a finely developed ear for music and the vocal capability, in both range and timbre, to match it. She was the lovely beautiful girl who brought her very individual formula of Eastern Exotique to a stage of white Anglo-Saxon rockers. We remember her with love in our hearts.”