I will begin by confessing that I am envious of many Duran Duran fans. Having been born in 1999, I came to appreciate the band long after what many consider to be their touring peak. I can only watch Sing Blue Silver on YouTube and imagine the electric atmosphere of tours in the 80s. Indeed, whilst many first saw DD in person during the tours that accompanied Seven and the Ragged Tiger or Big Thing / Notorious, my first (and currently only!) concert was during the Paper Gods Tour, at the First Direct Arena in Leeds.
The Paper Gods tour was a notoriously long one, and by the time it got to Leeds, it was a well-oiled machine. The performance was amazing, with no fluffed lines or issues that I can remember. One thing that continues to impress me is the energy of a Duran Duran concert. Everyone was up on their feet, singing along, and the venue was considerably bigger and more filled than I had come to expect from other 80s artists. Some of my favourite concerts I have attended include Nik Kershaw and Kim Wilde, but they were much smaller scale and more subtle. DD had loud sound, big screens, and a very excited audience.
However, although this was a very impressive and almost overwhelming experience for a 16 year old, and it solidified my status as a DD fan, it is not without criticism. Duran Duran tend to be more hit and miss when it comes to picking support acts. In my humble opinion, the support act for a band at a big concert play a very important role of keeping you entertained whilst you wait for the main act, and setting the mood. Due to a last minute cancellation, Seal (who I already thought was an unconventional choice for DD) was replaced by Bloom Twins. DD’s ability to avoid pigeonholing (mainly stemming from an endless desire to never be categorised as an ‘80s band’) has always been an impressive and valuable asset, but despite their best efforts, the Bloom Twins did not seem to fit the mood, and I remember some of the other audience members being a bit baffled as their choice.
This leads me to my next comment – the setlist. Despite their aforementioned reluctance to be deemed an 80s band, Paper Gods demonstrating this effectively, the setlist felt like more of a ‘Greatest Hits’ tour rather than a Paper Gods tour. Looking back at it, only 6 of the 19 songs performed were to do with the new album, one of those being part of a 3-song mash-up. I have read endless rants on Facebook comments sections about DD’s setlists, and it seems a divisive issue. On the one hand, unlike most bands they possess an impressive 40 year catalogue of hits, and have to appeal to the less ardent fans. On the other hand, it can make many of their tours seem quite similar to the more hardcore amongst us. For my first concert, I was perfectly happy with the selection of songs played, but I do hope to hear a few more songs from Future Past at the concerts this upcoming summer.
Despite the unconventional support act, my first concert was a triumph, and I will cherish the memories. Although tours as big as the Paper Gods one seem unlikely to return any time soon, seeing DD live is a necessary experience for any fan, no matter whether you are an experienced concertgoer, or a new fan as I was.
As a parting note, if anyone has the bootleg vinyl recording of this concert, let me know! When jogging my memory to write this, I discovered that such a thing exists. Perhaps an article on bootlegs I need for my collection is to be my next project 😉 (Edited to add: You should definitely write that article! -Amanda)