Duran Duran prove their enduring popularity at BST Hyde Park
Duran Duran hosted a tremendously entertaining singalong dance party as the finale for BST 2022 in Hyde Park on Sunday. With so much unbeatable live music filling the air in the venue over three consecutive long weekends it’s quite a challenge for the final headliner – not to mention it happened to be the hottest day so far this year, and most of the audience had been struggling against the merciless heat for hours. Perhaps to let things cool down a bit and push the show closer to sunset, Duran Duran took the stage 15 minutes later than scheduled. As soon as the concert started with The Wild Boys (a song destined for the stage, first released on the band’s 1984 live album Arena), it was safe to say everybody felt it was worth the wait and nobody was too tired to dance.
This festival appearance was part of the band’s tour promoting new album Future Past, which achieved bigger success here in their homeland (reaching number three on UK album chart) than overseas, and they didn’t wait long to showcase two new numbers: Invisible (featuring a brief appearance of the iconic Battersea Power Station in its backdrop visuals) and All of You, before returning to 1985 with the title song from the final Roger Moore Bond movie A View to a Kill (frontman Simon Le Bon later referred back to it, joking “The name’s Bon”). Union of the Snake following, bringing saxophonist Simon Willescroft into the spotlight, and both songs had the audience singing so loud and dancing so wildly that when they were over Le Bon asked if anybody had “any gas left in the tank”.
What followed was arguably the most significant guest appearance during this year’s British Summer Time Festival as Simon welcomed Nile Rodgers (who earlier played a fun-filled supporting set with his band, Chic) back to the stage. The frontman introduced him as “officially an honourable member of Duran Duran”, referring to Rodgers’s invaluable contribution, having recreated the band in their new funk-pop direction with the 1986 album, Notorious. Besides the title track from that record, Rodgers also stayed on to perform Pressure Off, as he did on its original 2015 studio version. The funky style of bassist John Taylor was particularly outstanding here, making a perfect rhythm section with drummer Roger Taylor (no relation, despite their shared surname), whilst keyboardist Nick Rhodes provided the solid electronic sound unmistakably characteristic of 80s British New Wave. Nile Rodgers and Chic are now confirmed as special guests on select dates of Duran Duran’s upcoming North American tour so their live collaboration won’t be a one off, but it was the Hyde Park audience who got to see it first.
Many of the band’s peers from the same genre and era are still filling arenas and clubs, and some have fallen into oblivion, but the magical longevity of Duran Duran’s popularity remains enough to headline a huge festival, no doubt due to the large volume of timeless classics in their back catalogue. This performance drew a crowd of 50,000 or more of all ages to sing along. Come Undone brought backing singer Anna Ross forward for uplifting female vocals, while Rachel O’Connor got her turn in the spotlight soon after to co-sing lead vocals on new song Give It All Up. Hungry Like the Wolf was next, and Ordinary World (dedicated here to the people of Ukraine, Le Bon explaining, “It’s a song about not giving up hope, about when things are really hard, still holding on to your faith in the world and in humanity”) allowed touring guitarist Dominic Brown, who occupied a corner stage-left most of the time, to come centre-stage and play a refined solo. Planet Earth, The Reflex, and Girls on Film closed out the set.
The band then left the stage, before returning for an encore with another two of their greatest hits, Save a Prayer (with thousands of mobile phones lighting up magnificently across Hyde Park, as if the stars had fallen from heaven) and Rio. The shouts for “one more song” thereafter weren’t as loud as on the previous two nights with Pearl Jam, perhaps just because it was a Sunday, after all, and some people might have already started thinking of What Happens Tomorrow (one of many other Duran Duran hits that couldn’t be squeezed in this time).
For further information and future events visit Duran Duran’s website here.
Watch a video for The Wild Boys here: