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Dreams That String the Road

Setlists: We all love ‘em – and mostly hate ‘em.


“Why do they always play [insert personal big-hit hate]?  Why don’t they play [insert personal obscure fave]?”


When we play ‘my favourite set list’ game, it is usually a diverse wish-list that can never be (such Arcadia album tracks, Liberty demos or anything from the last album-but-one).


But how about a favourite set list made up of songs that you have seen? A kind of personal memory bank of good times and wonder moments?


That’s what I have done here.


I’ve picked at least one song from every show I have seen. My first Duran concert was way back in 1988, and I’ve seen them every so often since then. Not as many as some, more than many. What was interesting when compiling my list was how the people I was with at the shows made the memory as much as the songs themselves. Ain’t that always what it comes back to?


This is not a brag article (though you can take it like that if you want). It’s a remembrance of good times, special occasions in my life that I am very thankful for. You will have many of your own – I am sure that you cherish them as much as I do my own.


1 and 2. Big Thing and I Don’t Want Your Love (Wembley 1988)


Some people say their favourite Duran record is Planet Earth, or their favourite b-side is Late Bar. I say: Fair enough… except it means it has been downhill for the last 43 years.


Then again, this is my choice for the opening of my personal concert, and it was the first moments of my first ever concert.


Some people may say that this makes this an obvious choice. To those people I say: You weren’t there.


It was…. Everything. The darkness, the anticipation, the wonders of God This Is How A Road Gets Made. It, frankly, hasn’t got better than that in the 35 years of concerts I have been to since. But certain moments, as you will see, have come very close.


And the screaming! For once, I was correct in a prediction. As I said to my brother, “I bet Bros won’t get this a crowd like this in 5 years’ time.”


3, 4 and 5. Hungry Like The Wolf, New Religion and Careless Memories (Wembley 2004)


In terms of a set-list, Hungry Like The Wolf is usually in one of the first three songs, and my show will be no different. These three monster tracks were all at the reunion shows just before Astronaut was released. It doesn’t get much better than this. A trio of bangers played by their creators, with the Manga cartoon during Careless Memories (which has somehow evolved into a Big Hit without ever being on Decade or Greatest) as a stunning backdrop.


6. Give It All Up (Halifax 2022)


Halifax? What has ever happened in Halifax, apart from pigeon racing, tripe and whippets? Well, it’s got an amazing market place which turned into a Roman-esque setting that night. Well, that’s what it felt like on a sultry hot summer's evening after a day meeting friends and seeing Duran have the home crowd in the palm of their hands. Give It All Up soared into the night sky and took it’s place in the Duran pantheon of ballads alongside the likes of Land, Mediterranea and Save A Prayer.


7. Nightboat (O2, London 2023)


This was the second night of the UK Future Past tour.  Ruth, Ben and I went together and made a pact not to look at the previous night’s setlist. We knew it was highly likely that the majority of the show would be familiar with at most a couple of add-ons, and it seemed to be a good idea, to maintain some anticipation for the night ahead. We successfully steered conversations away from the topic at the pre-show meet-up – and we were not disappointed. What a start, what an entrance, what a song.


8. Friends of Mine (The Forum, London 2003)


If anything could get near the rush of the opening of my first sighting of Duran Duran on stage in 1988, this was it. The lights went down in the 2,000 person venue, the noise level reached thunderous proportions, and then emerging from the wings came the five – back onstage in the together for the first time since 1983.


I had been a vocal detractor of the reunion, seeing it as a grubby business which demeaned Duran’s legacy. Well, my head may have said I was right, but my heart confirmed I was wrong.


9. Playing With Uranium (Nottingham 2000)


It was literally weeks to go before Warren was to get the heave-ho, and this was his last show in the UK as the Pop Trash tour came to a close. The evening was notable for me being (finally) quick off the mark and nabbing second row tickets, and seeing this fave up close with Warren in full flight was wonderful.


I also met the band after the show for my one and only encounter (thanks to a helping hand from a lovely friend, who also sourced me the ticket for The Forum heart emoji). It was all going well until Warren (who had just said some nice things to me about Cherry Lipstick and posed for a picture with the issue) flicked through the fanzine and saw a comment that said he was “technically completely useless.” The actual quote was, “Warren is not technically completely useless,” but he (understandably) missed the nuance. Anyway, he rolled up the issue and stuffed it down his pants, which was probably fair enough. 


10. Some Like It Hot / Election Day (London Arena 1989)


After the highs of Wembley four months previously, the actual UK tour for Big Thing was a bit of a let down. The venue was brand new, it was hard to get to, the seating was a mess, and it was all a bit after the Lord Mayor’s show. However, this medley obviously was highlight. Since 1989 the two songs were rested for nearly 20 years, and have only been played 23 times since then.


11. Ordinary World (Dublin 2023)


A fab away trip with Ben to meet Ruth on her home turf.


Simon: “We were having a bad time and this song saved our career.”

Audience cheers

Simon: “Yeah, we were pretty happy about that too.”


With that introduction, the song roared. I looked around and saw the whole audience enraptured and singing along. It’s been dulled for us by ubiquity, so it’s worth remembering it is very popular for a reason. Did I spy Ruth shedding a tear? If you ask her, she’ll deny it.


12. Out of My Mind (Earls Court 1999)


1999 saw Duran touring back in America in smaller venues, before playing this one-off arena gig just before Christmas in London. The day was special for the CL gang meet-up before the show, which was not matched by the cheap-looking staging and poor song choices before a festive crowd looking to party. All She Wants Is and Out of My Mind were good, though.


13 and 14. Come Undone and White Lines (Wembley 1994)


Yes, I know, White Lines a-fucking-gain, but bear with me.


This was a generally underwhelming show on a cold January night in which numerous copies of Cherry Lipstick were confiscated by security guards due to our overly loud selling of it in the car park after the show. Fight the power, people! Too many big hits were subjected to the acoustic re-arrangements which were interesting as an intimate one-off on MTV but dragged badly in a cavernous arena setting. But we did get Lamya in full flight on a gloriously extended Come Undone, and the OG version of White Lines with the very special guest appearance of Melle Mel. It also leads the charge to this concert's finish line…


15. Is There Something I Should Know (O2 London 2023)


This song should not be as good as it was that night. The fun photo-montages of band shots and magazine covers (pic above) swooned us all back to 1983 and it was impossible not to be swept up in the exuberance of the song.


16. Planet Earth (Wembley 1998)


This Greatest and Latest tour came just at the right time. It was Duran’s first time back in the UK since 1994, after tours of the US in 1995 and 1997. And they came on stage to this – the perfect opening song (except for my choice, obviously). There were my band, back in front of me, with their rousing call to arms. Happy days were here again.


17. Girls On Film (Wembley 1988)


Back to my first ever show, and I was genuinely shocked and delighted to find this ‘old’ song pulled out the bag (it was a ridiculously ancient 7 years old at this point, which to a 17 year old was AGES). This is a perfect song to play before the encore. It’s always a delight to hear it – except at Earls Court in ’99 when it was played FIRST! Oi, Duran – NO!




18. Faster Than Light (Leicester 2022)


Every so often Duran throw us a bone, and you’d better be around to catch it. The whole audience hugged themselves in delight at being there for this – and the band looked chuffed to bits to have pulled this off.


Even better for me, this my first Duran show since 2005, and it followed a wonderful day with the new friends I have been lucky enough to find since CL’s relaunch in 2017.


19. Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) (Birmingham 2005)

Apparently (and shockingly) this has only been played live 16 times (10 times in 1982 and 6 times in 2005). I had no idea at the time how lucky I was. This was actually the very first play since the Rio tour, and remains the last time it was heard in the UK.

This song is a highlight of my Duran-fandom on record. In Birmingham I was deliberately at the back of the football stadium to jump around and have easy access to the bar, which I made use during various Astronaut songs.

Luckier people than me include those who managed to hear Runway Runaway on the four (FOUR!) occasions it was played in 2011. Which contrasts with those unlucky to be at any of 31 shows where The Crystal Ship was inflicted on paying punters.


20. Rio (Wembley 1998)


Well, it has to be, doesn’t it? Another from the Greatest and Latest UK tour, and was preceded by the long slow version of Secret Oktober. The band then went into Roxy Music’s Virginia Plain. They played the first two verses, before ending with “Baby Jane’s in Acapulco, we are flying down to Rio……” A pregnant pause allowed the penny to drop with the audience, and we were off with a roar in to the song we all know and love.


So, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane – and that you have fun creating your own personal concert setlist. Add yours below!


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