By Less Lee Moore
As a longtime Duranie, I remember all too well the anti-Duran Duran sentiments of the 1980s. Duran Duran’s career has now lasted about thirty years and due to the band’s impressive longevity, unique sound, undeniable influence, and general affability, I thought that phase was long past.
After seeing one incredibly nasty comment made about the band recently, I felt almost personally offended, shocked that anyone still clung to such negative thoughts after all this time. Haven’t Duran Duran more than proven themselves by now?
I invite such haters to watch the newly-released Hammersmith ’82! DVD and defy them to feel anything but joy after seeing it.
Filmed in December of 1982 at the end of that year’s exhaustive world tour for the Rio album, this DVD displays Duran Duran at their best and most talented, a very popular band, but one still on the cusp of megastardom. They were big, but not yet big enough to have matching outfits on tour. (That would come with the next album, 1983′s Seven and The Ragged Tiger.)
The concert focuses mainly on Rio during the first half and then their debut album during the second, with a finale of the band’s delightful cover of Cockney Rebel’s “Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me).” The song order is intriguing, knowing which songs would eventually become fan favorites and encores.
You can see, hear, and even feel the band’s enthusiasm for every song: keyboardist and cosmetics connoisseur Nick Rhodes wears a huge grin the entire time while singer Simon Le Bon jumps around so frenetically that he even lies down on the stage and dances from the floor during a particularly rousing performance of “Friends Of Mine.”
I laughed a bit at the band’s attire, since it is so very 1980s, but then got a twinge of that feeling I had back then: the decade was new and I was going to embrace it as my own. Other indications of ’80s damage: Simon leaves the stage at one point and comes back dressed like Indiana Jones for a performance of “Night Boat.” The drum riser and Rhodes’ keyboard setup are placed opposite each other and given equal height. One of the teen boys in the audience appears to be wearing a tux amongst a sea of fedora-clad girls, bless him.
The camera work is great and the band sounds wonderful; even the stage setup and lighting are gorgeous. Perhaps it’s the passing of time, the inevitable boomerang effect of trends going out of style and then coming back in again, but everything looks fresh, vibrant, and incredibly modern. The DVD has beautifully-designed menus that capture the look and feel of the time period, despite being created more recently. And in a nod to those nostalgia-obsessed longtime fans, the DVD packaging uses the same color scheme, layout, and even fonts of the Rio-era, but still manages to look contemporary, thus proving that Duran Duran have always been trendsetters.
The excellent extra features on the DVD include a couple of Top Of The Pops performances from 1982 and Rio-era videos, two of which appeared on the original Duran Duran VHS video collection and which were not included on the 2003 Duran Duran DVD: the romantic “Lonely In Your Nightmare” and the outstanding dance remix of “My Own Way.” There is also a CD of the entire concert performance included; after all, despite the makeup and fashion, it’s still all about the music.
Finally, Duran Duran shows everyone that they have a sense of humor about themselves by including mini-bios and black and white photos from the time in the inside booklet. How can anyone not love these guys?
Hammersmith ’82! was released on October 6. Duran Duran is currently working on their next album. For upcoming (and past) DVD releases, CD reissues, and digital downloads, check out the News Page onDuran Duran’s Official Site.