All the gigs of my life: Gig 88 – Duran Duran, Wednesday, April 14, 2004, Wembley Arena

A stormingly entertaining evening from Duran Duran.

At a bit past midnight on the first of January 2004, I stumbled slightly champagne-dazzled into the spare room of my parents’ flat in Canada, to log onto their computer with only one thought on my mind: I must buy a ticket to see Duran Duran!

Why I was seized by such fervour I don’t know – perhaps one of the Duran classics had been played on the radio as part of the New Year festivities and had sparked my desire to witness it live. It would be stretching the point to call myself a Duran Duran fan – in the course of my music-obsessed life I’d only bought the cassette single of “Ordinary World” from their oeuvre. But the band’s decadently glam and outrageously catchy pop tunes had been present throughout my childhood in the 80s, and the prospect of seeing them live seemed like a very fun one indeed.

So off I strode to Wembley this spring evening of 2004, and as predicted, had an incredibly fun evening. I was now well and truly past the era of writing intricately detailed diary entries about gigs, and all I have to go on for this is a few sentences about the lighting – ‘spaceship lights! in fact, amazing light show in general‘ – and noting that ‘Simon le Bon seemed to salute me during the final bows‘, which means that I must at least have been close enough to the stage to be able to see the star throw a salute and assess which direction it was pointed in.

My livejournal of the time has a little more information, as part of a rundown of the week’s events:

Wednesday evening of course I went to see Duran Duran, who were absolutely bloody amazing. They were never a band I was especially a fan of, just liked the hits, but by the end of it I was cheering and singing along like a lifelong obsessive. “The Reflex” and “Wild Boys” were two of the most thrilling live songs I’ve witnessed for many a long month, and it was so refreshing to see a frontperson who actually behaves like a proper pop star.

This is still a somewhat paltry report, but as luck would have it, there is a DVD of this tour, recorded at Wembley later on in the same month. Watching this, it’s clear that the band were on incredible form at the time, and it’s a hugely slick and entertaining show. One moment in particular stands out – for “Save a Prayer” the band asks the crowd to lift up their mobile phones to create a sea of stars as a back ground for this melancholy tune. Except that this was 2004, and we didn’t have smartphones with built-in torchlights, so instead, there’s a sea of Nokia and Motorola handsets lit up orange and green being waved about in a very sombre and meaningful manner. All of which makes this show, only 16 years old, feel suddenly very dated. I wonder if I waved my beloved Samsung flip phone about at this point at my gig? (I really miss flip phones.)

The other noteworthy thing about this gig is the fact that I bought a programme, and it is one of the most unusual of my collection, given that the band for some reason decided to encase it in a silver ziplock bag:

And the cover features a lenticular image which switches between past and present Duran Duran:

So, it was an excellent evening, and though I maintain to this day only a casual fandom for the band, I am very glad that I took the opportunity to see this band that for so many epitomised the glam excesses of the 80s. Simon le Bon and co: I salute you back.

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