LIVE REVIEW: Duran Duran – Utilita Arena, Birmingham 5th May 2023


For the younger music lover it might seems quite strange watching these legendary bands live.  Some of these gig goers who adorned the Utilita Arena, or National Indoor Arena in old money, on this bright Friday evening in the UK’s second city were clearly not born when the Taylors, Nick Rhodes caught the eye of Londoner Simon Le Bon in the backstreets of Birmingham over 40 years ago.  Come to think of it I would guess that quite of a few of their parents wouldn’t have been born either!!

Nevertheless here they are, forty years older, wiser and keeping a healthy shine that had those young ladies in the  1980’s wailing into their denims at the mere glimpse of these young pop-rock studs.  It might be a bit much to ask of the younger ladies in attendance to swoon in the same fashion as their predecessors but they are giving it a good go.

Before the Brummie legends took stage MVM caught the last half of the set from support act Jake Shears, the one of Scissor Sisters as MVM’s Andy informs me is his more commonly known identity.  Jake is wearing a sparkly black number that wouldn’t have been out of place on Strictly.  Much like the TV dance competition Jake proceeds to hip thrust and shake his way though some solo and Scissor Sister material.  All of which is a not particularly appealing to MVM’s ears but the man himself appears to be enjoying it and does what men in sparkly outfits do. 

So once all that is out the way we get to the main course of the evening and save for three tracks from their latest album Future Past this is a hit-fest all the way.  From the opening strains of “Night Boat” to the closing bars of “Rio” it is a non-stop celebration of the UK’s finest pop-rockers.  The newer tracks show that the band, unlike many of the contemporaries, are far from a heritage act. 

When you have the back catalogue of chart-bothering numbers that this band do then it is always going to be slightly tricky in choosing a setlist to please all, and that despite the near two hour set-time.  For example I would have loved to hear “Hold Back The Rain” but such trifling matters aside it is difficult to fault the setlist tonight.

The notable absence from tonight is, of course, Andy Taylor who revealed his prostate cancer diagnosis last year and has been away from the band’s touring schedule ever since.  Whilst the outcome for Andy Taylor sadly appears already determined MVM would like to wish him all the best in his battle.

Once the closing notes of “Night Boat” have passed through the Birmingham air a double whammy of “The Wild Boys” and to my ears at least their greatest track “Hungry Like The Wolf” shake the foundations of the arena.  The fact that new track “Invisible” fits nicely afterwards is somewhat surprising given the remarkable standard already set.  Newer tracks that follow classics are usually given a lukewarm response at best but here the track is treated like a greatest hit.  Now having never seen the Duran boys live before I was very pleasantly surprised by how heavy and full the band sounded.  Much heavier and powerful than the record – which is always a good sign for me.

The Bond title-track “A View To A Kill” quickly keeps the energy levels high and a track like “Notorious” is never going to be anything less than full-on bombast!!  So far so rockingly good.

Inevitably the tempo does unwind somewhat with another newbie in “Give It All Up”.  Not one of the better tracks from Future Past in my humble opinion but seems to translate well enough to the stage. “Last Chance on the Stairway” is a great reminder of the band at the height of their powers.  Probably the two most memorable tracks of the night were a hard rockin’ double salvo of “Friends of Mine” and “Careless Memories”.  The band at their most explosive and vibrant.

Of course, “The Reflex”, “Girls on Film” and “Save A Prayer” are as bankable as it gets.  Duran Duran prove that even bands and artists who are ridiculously popular, some of that popularity attributed to their 1980’s looks and dressed-for-success savvy, can outlast and out perform the vast majority of so-called trendier bands with consummate ease.

Donnie’s Rating: 9/10

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