SANDALFORDS, SWAN VALLEY
24 MARCH 2012
1. Before the Rain
20. Girls on Film
There was a time when Duran Duran was one of the biggest bands in the world and to many gathered here tonight at a packed Sandalford Winery, on a beautiful night in the beautiful Swan Valley they probably still are.
Tonight’s openers from Sydney, Red Ink, consists of a female singer and two guys behind decks, they’re pretty uninspiring and get a lukewarm response from the crowd except when they either throw in a snatch of a familiar song by another artist into their mix, or mention the name of tonight’s openers ‘Duran Duran’.
Despite being slightly late on stage and beset with technical issues (with the power twice cutting out during the show meaning that at one point they are off stage for twenty minutes) nothing either dampens the spirit of the massive crowd gathered here or the band themselves tonight.
We get off to a surprisingly low-key start though, as the band walks out and Simon stands in the deep blue shadows. A lot of the crowd is expecting they will kick the show off with something big. Instead we get the slightly morose ‘Before The Rain’ and although it’s immediately apparent that many of the crowd know the song you can’t help but notice the rise in the intensity of response for ‘Planet Earth’ and the further increase in crowd volume that meets ‘A View to a Kill’.
A band like Duran Duran, that is still a going concern and recording new music, is always going to have that slightly sticky predicament of giving the crowd what the majority obviously want – a set of the Greatest Hits, and plugging their later catalogue. They seem to almost get the balance right tonight, though the back to back placement of newer songs in the set like ‘All You Need Is Now’ with ‘Blame the Machines’ and later on ‘Girl Panic’, ‘The Man Who Stole The Leopard’ and ‘Tiger Tiger’ does try the patience of some, but it keeps the bars busy so at the end of the day everyone is happy.
Duran Duran was first in WA back in 1983 when they played the old Entertainment Centre, and Simon enquires of the crowd (in between banter about stromatolites and the water in London) how many were there on that warm November evening – the answer seems to be that there were quite a few (and quite a few more that probably wish they were and so shout out anyway).
So almost 30 year later he we are, and after a subdued ‘Blame the Machines’ from 2010, Simon is out into the crowd to find a likely participant to help him with the next song. And it’s Mick, plucked from a few rows back, who proves up to the task of making the appropriate opening noises for ‘The Reflex’ which receives the biggest ovation of the evening so far. Rather than capitalise on that though they launch into ‘Come Undone’ which despite being a US Top Ten single back in the ‘90s seems to be less than familiar with most of the crowd.
Despite few missteps tonight: ‘Safe’ probably gets the most subdued of crowd reactions before the audience lights up again for ‘Is There Something I Should Know?’ before the power cuts out for the first time. While we are waiting we almost get a joke from Simon but as it’s only two minutes before we’re back up and running I guess we’ll never know how a career as a stand-up would suit him?
As the ‘Careless Memories’ track kicks it, it’s interesting to think the song is 31 years old this year. But before we really get going the band is off the stage for 20 minutes as the power cuts out again.
Coming back with the new single ‘Girl Panic!’ might quite not be what most of the crowd was after, especially after a few more wines. But Simon gets the participation going for ‘The Man Who Stole a Leopard’ with it’s fake news broadcast intro.
For a band with such a huge back-catalogue it’s clear though where people’s hearts lie – and it’s that decade called the ‘80s where Duran ruled the roost. ‘Notorious’ goes down a treat (though I always found it a little innocuous), as does the cover of “White Lines’ (though some are asking why a cover when there are still so many hits to play) but the best is still to come.
The laid-back ‘Ordinary World’; with Simon pondering the plight of the Syrian rebels, and dedicating the song to their cause; leads into the hysteria and mass crowd boogie that greets ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’ and it’s all light and shade as ‘Sunrise’ leads into a riotous ‘The Wild Boys’ which includes a smattering of Frankie’s Relax…
It’s a funny way to end as ‘Wild Boys’ clearly hasn’t dated as well as most of their catalogue – though I suspect that may very much be the point! Duran Duran has left the stage.
After only the shortest of breaks, we’re back for the encores and an extended ‘Girls On Film’ that includes an extended jam and thorough introduction to the band including Simon getting another random patron – this time - Sarah to introduce him. And a great job she does of it too.
The band closes with a sublime rendition of ‘Rio’ and with the condensed package of eighties pop in just those two songs everyone goes home happy. The band bows and are gone; and we wander off under the stars…
By Mark Diggins