Date: 1 January 2003
Originally published in: OK! (UK)
Written by: Ruth Hilton
Saccharine pop acts come and go, but there’s nothing Brits like quite so much as chart nostalgia. Whether it be the overwhelming success of the Here And Now tours in recent years featuring Paul Young, Heaven 17 and Kim Wilde or ITV hit revival show ‘Reborn in the USA’, the ’80s are indisputably back with a vengeance.
On such fertile ground, original 80s boy band Duran Duran staged a comeback last week with their first gig in 18 years, at the Forum in Kentish Town, London, which broke records by selling out in less than four minutes. Tickets were touted for up to £300 – testament to the fact the ’80s may be gone but not forgotten.
Ten years ago fashion police would have shamed anyone daring to wear ruffled shirts, leggings or legwarmers into submission. These days that regalia’s all over the high street – a trend not lost on Duran Duran gig-goers who squeezed into 20-year-old fashions.
The band began the two-hour London set with new songs ‘Friends of mine’ and ‘Virus’ before classic hits ‘Hungry like the wolf’, ‘Is there something I should know’and ‘Rio’, Le Bon told a hysterical crowd .’We’ve been sat down at a table for two years writing and I can’t tell you how excited I am and pleased to be playing now.’ The sell-out gig was just one in a world tour to celebrate Duran Duran’s 25th anniversary. In New York they sold out in two minutes.
But though the Durans are riding high, there’s a sting in the tail of the ’80s revival. Fans may be going wild for such nostalgia acts, but proper chart comebacks are not going quite according to plan with record companies yet to be convinced that the old players can make it again with new tunes.
Spearing at the Q Awards recently, where Duran Duran received a Lifetime Achievement Award, John Taylor told the Daily Express: ‘We still haven’t been signed. There is some interest but it’s not as easy as we expected. We’ve written an album, but we realise we might only get to put a single out. Record companies are very cautious these days, no matter who you are.’
So too with Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley, winner of ‘Reborn in the USA’. His 2003 tour gigs sold out, but he failed to set the charts alight with new offerings. The ’80s revival reminds us of neon-socked school discos and illicit bike-shed liaisons, but new tunes from the acts don’t have the same appeal because they’re not loaded with memories, so revival artists need to win over a whole new generation.
Kim Wilde’s move from chart-topper to gardening guru is unusual but respected. No one wants to see her spoil her iconic pop persona with a dodgy release. Just one naff single can change a star’s reputation from credible to pitiful. Think how long it took Sir Paul McCartney to get over the ‘Frog Chorus’.
Duran Duran remain as yet unfazed by such pitfalls – they can rest assured that their gigs will have the tills ringing. Not surprisingly, they’ve planned a world tour next year. Should they manage to land a record deal, the transition from ’80s revivalists to band of the moment will be a tough one. Still, if such an iconic band feel they deserve ne more crack at chart success, who can blame them?