On 18 December 1983 an excited 11-year old headed off to Wembley Arena in the Dad-taxi with her friends to see Duran Duran in concert. Recollections of the Dad-taxi driver are of standing outside the arena with many other slightly concerned-looking fathers as they listened to the sound of screaming girls inside and wondering what on earth they would be taking home. The 11-year old just thought it was awesome, then cried.
Duran Duran were many things in the eighties – New Romantics, the wearers of pastel-coloured suits on boats, everything that was wrong with Thatcher’s Britain, a teen-band sensation and writers of catchy pop songs that are still strongly identified with the era. It was these classics that Duran Duran brought with them to Common People 2016 on the Bank Holiday weekend when they headlined the final day of the two-day Southampton festival.
After a risky start playing the title track of their latest album, Paper Gods, which not many of the gathered crowd were familiar with, they launched in to tracks that anyone who recalls lying in front of the stereo on a Sunday afternoon, finger poised over the pause button, will remember. Hungry Like The Wolf, Girls on Film, Wild Boys were all there along with a sprinkling of new tracks. It is probably Duran Duran’s continuing work ethic since their ‘heyday’, particularly collaborating with new producers, that has kept them from resorting to the 80’s retro circuit; over recent years they have worked with producers including Timbaland, Mark Ronson and Nile Rodgers.
The few new tracks they played worked well with the back-catalogue and the momentum of the headline act didn’t falter once they got going. They played touching tributes both to David Bowie (through a segue from Planet Earth to Space Oddity) and to Prince, speaking of his musical influence and dedicating Save A Prayer, bathing the stage in purple light. By the time they closed their set with one of the most iconic eighties songs, Rio, the audience were all with them and singing along heartily.
For many in the audience, including the once-tearful 11-year old, it was a trip down memory lane to see Duran Duran – this time there wasn’t any screaming, there were no tears, no Dad-taxi drivers, but an awful lot of Dad-dancing.