Lately, our daily questions/polls have focused on Duran’s live performances. Specifically, people have picked which version of a song they like better. The versions are live performances from different tours. We have asked about New Religion, Careless Memories and the Chauffeur. Interestingly enough, for each song, fans who participate in our daily questions have stated that the 1984 Sing Blue Silver version of these songs are the best. This has made me think. Was Duran really better live in 1984? Were the arrangements better? If so, what does that say about the band? If not, what does that say about the fans?
1984 was the height of Duranmania. They were selling out stadiums worldwide and had songs and albums at the top of the charts. Most would agree that they were the most popular band in the world at that time. Their concerts were often filled with teenage girls who spent a LOT of the time screaming, from everything I read. I have also read/seen many interviews in which the band discussed the “wall of sound” that was created from the screaming crowd. Watch the video below and hear the band talk about this about 7 minutes in:
Now, in fairness, I did not see Duran Duran in 1984. I’m sure that I would have thought that they were amazing then! But, would they be better then than now? Would the 30 years after that not make them better, in terms of their musicianship and performance? Did their live performances peak over 30 years ago?!? Listen to what Nick said in 2005 about 1 minute into this clip:
Duran would argue that their live performances are better now. That said, I’ll play devil’s advocate. In 1984, they were younger and had more energy. Perhaps, that energy would make their performance more entertaining. I could see that. Yet, when I think of live performances, I do want the songs to be entertaining and fun, but I also want the music to be played well.
Let me try an experiment. I’m going to put videos of Careless Memories from 1984 and then from 2004. Just listen to them. Do not watch them. Then, tell me which version you like better. Both of them are from official videos, too, to ensure that the sound quality is decent on both.
In thinking about this question, when did Duran play better live, I think about my own career. Just yesterday, I was asked to meet with a bunch of soon-to-be-teachers. While I appreciated their enthusiasm and their idealism, I liked that they wanted me there as someone with experience. While I might not be as energetic as I once was as a teacher, I know that I’m a better teacher now than I was when I first started. Experience matters.
Personally, I would hate to believe that the best days of my career were in the past, when I first started. I would imagine that Duran would hate that, too. I’m willing to bet that Duran gets a lot of questions in reference to their “heyday” and how they “peaked” in their mid-20s. I’m sure that’s frustrating and that they would prefer to think that they are at their best right now. After all, if they were at their best in the mid 80s, then why continue now?
I’m sure that the fans who are voting for the 1984 Sing Blue Silver Tour versions of the songs don’t mean all this. They are just thinking that they loved that time period. Sing Blue Silver and As the Lights Go Down bring back nothing but fond memories of a band that they fell in love with. I guess, for me, while I loved the band then, I love them differently and more now. Maybe it is the fan in me that actually believes that they are better now, too.