A band still in demand.
SIX months ago, Duran Duran was staring into the abyss.
After 30 years together in various incarnations, 85 million albums sold and a string of hits including Rio, Hungry Like the Wolf, Wild Boys and Ordinary World, it looked like the end could be nigh.
During a tour on the back of the band’s most recent album, All You Need Is Now, which had attracted some of its best reviews in years, lead singer Simon Lebon went for a note he’d normally hit with ease at a show in Cannes. The note wasn’t there. When he got off stage it turned out he had lost seven notes from the top of his range and the doctors initially couldn’t tell him when he would recover, forcing the band to cancel several dates over the European summer and plunging its very existence into doubt.
Thankfully, after consultations with a voice therapist who worked on his posture and technique, Lebon was able to reconvene with his bandmates Nick Rhodes, John Taylor and Roger Taylor a few months later to re- embark on the world tour that will bring the band to Australia in March.
Bass player John Taylor says the band contemplated the worst.
‘‘ Obviously it wasn’t as scary for us as it was for him, but we all had a good look into the abyss and wondered what life would be like without Simon or if the band couldn’t go on,’’ he says.
‘‘ We got to consider those questions over the summer and that is quite humbling. So we came back together with a renewed sense of love and concern for each other.’’
Taylor is audibly excited about the prospect of returning to Australia for an arena tour as some of the band’s defining moments happened Down Under.
Thanks in part to Molly Meldrum doing us all a favour on Countdown in the early 1980s, Duran Duran had its first No. 1 single here with its now 30- year- old debut single Planet Earth.
The clip for the song was also directed by Melbourne filmmaker Russell Mulcahy, who would go on to mastermind the flamboyant and groundbreaking videos for Rio, The Wild Boys and Reflex among others.
‘‘ The first time we came to Australia to the Hordern Pavilion, those were the biggest shows we had played at that time,’’ Taylor says. ‘‘ We had more fun than should be allowed.
‘‘ Then we went back and made [ third album] Seven and the Ragged Tiger at 301 Studios in Castlereagh St and I feel like we almost got kicked out after that.’’
Duran Duran is a band still in demand for the biggest festivals such as America’s Coachella, which they played this earlier year alongside Kanye West and Kings of Leon.
Part of the band’s longevity is that, despite going through many line- ups, centred on Lebon and keyboardist Nick Rhodes, Duran Duran never really split.
And when they reunited with their original line- up to great fanfare 10 years ago, the intention was always to record new music rather than just touring as a nostalgia act.
They duly delivered Astronaut in 2004, Red Carpet Massacre in 2007 and All You Need Is Now late last year.
‘‘ We have a lot of drive in our band and we keep believing our best years are ahead of us,’’ Taylor says. ‘‘ We have worked very hard not to get dragged back into the past, which is quite difficult when you have the past we have, and we invest heavily in this moment right now.
‘‘ We are all very proud of our most recent album and that’s probably the key to the lifeblood of this band – we keep writing new material and put out albums every couple of years.
‘‘ It doesn’t matter how many members of the audience are coming to hear the old material, the fact is we get to play the old material with a lot more energy because we have four or five new songs.’’