On this date in 1984, Duran Duran’s live album, Arena, was released. This, of course, makes me think of my connection to the album and the other live albums of theirs. I also give my little fantasy for live albums in the future.
This album was the first live album for Duran. It captured the Sing Blue Silver Tour of 1984 and included the sentence, “recorded live around the world” on the sleeve. This is unlike most live albums, which are recorded at one specific show. Of course, we also know that the album featured one new track, Wild Boys. Around the same time, Arena, An Absurd Notion, DVD was released along with Into the Arena board game. Indeed, fans had a lot of material to watch, listen, and buy in late 1984!
I remember receiving this album for Christmas in 1984. That year also marked the first walkman for me. From what I recall, all of the kids in my family got walkmans that year. For me, this meant that I could use the headphones while I listened to my brand new copy of Arena. The family’s record player was located in the dining room portion of our living room/dining room combo. I have distinct memories of sitting on a dining room chair, listening and pouring over the lyrics. While I knew all of the songs (except for Wild Boys), I was fascinated by what changes took place, lyrically, from the original recording to these live versions. Even as a kid, I analyzed everything Duran!
Looking back on Arena, I can now acknowledge both the positive and negative aspects of the live album. It obviously featured a lot of the band’s hits, including Is There Something I Should Know, Planet Earth, Hungry like the Wolf, and Save a Prayer. Yet, it wasn’t until the reissue of 2004 that Girls on Film and Rio were included. It also included some fan favorites that weren’t hits, but were well loved like New Religion and Careless Memories. Still, many other songs seemed to be missing. I recall being surprised that the Reflex was left off since it was such a huge hit in 1984. It is a rather short album in comparison to the 90 minute sets that they commonly then. The main criticism about the album, though, is that it was simply too polished. It lacked the feel of a live album. I cannot disagree, which is, perhaps, why I don’t tend to play this one much. I have heard far better bootlegs of that tour, which seem to capture the feeling of that era more.
Live from London and A Diamond in the Mind
Since Arena was released, fans have enjoyed two other live albums, Live from London and A Diamond in the Mind. Live from London focused on the reunion of the Fab Five and came out 20 years after Arena. During that time, I loved to listen to this one as it had all the great hits and really made me feel as if I was there at the concert. Of course, it didn’t hurt that it also came with a tremendous live show DVD and a lengthy documentary about the band’s history and the reunion. What more could a fan want?! It didn’t hurt that I also got to see the concert in a movie theater with lots of other Duranies. While it wasn’t a live show, it wasn’t the next best thing!
Truly, I didn’t think it could get any better until A Diamond in the Mind came out. This one, released in 2012, focused on the All You Need Is Now era. In 2004 and 2005, I couldn’t imagine a better time in Duranland, but by 2011 and 2012, I knew that the AYNIN era made me even happier. During Astronaut, I went to a bunch of shows and had an amazing time. Yet, AYNIN came at a time that my fandom needed a shot of energy and pure Duran-ness. That album and tour gave me more than a shot. They gave me lots more as Rhonda and I started this blog and began to plan meet-ups. It also featured a couple of trips to the UK, which will always be special. Like Live from London, I was also able to see the DVD part in a movie theater with other Duranies as part of Durandemonium, our little Duranie convention in 2013.
Hopes for Future Live Albums/DVDs
Ideally, I would love a live album and DVD for each album cycle. I know that the show at the Budokan in Japan will air in Japan on December 10th. Hopefully, maybe, possibly, this will be made available elsewhere after that?! I, for one, would love it.
Another idea that I would love if the band would consider would be to record all of their live shows. They could either make them available for purchase or include them in VIP packages. For me, I would love to have every show I have been to available to listen to after the fact. They would bring back lots of good memories.
What about the rest of you? What do you think of the Duran’s live albums? What would you like them to do in the future?