PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Reviews

Duran Duran at Its Best: 'Duran Duran Live 2011: A Diamond In the Mind'

Thirty years on, this band of New Romantics is still new, still romantic.


Duran Duran

Live 2011: A Diamond In The Mind

Label: Eagle
US Release date: 2012-07-10
UK Release date: 2012-07-02
Amazon
iTunes

There’s an adage that all handsome young British men eventually wind up looking like their mothers. The members of Duran Duran, all of them now at that all-critical half-century mark, do resemble this statement, but many of their fans aren’t that far behind. What’s that all mean? Well, basically, for a group that some wanted to write off as a flash in the pan, this outfit has done remarkably well for itself and managed to find––and maintain––an audience that’s as smart, serious, and as good looking as it is.

Duran Duran has displayed a remarkable tenacity over the last 30-plus years. There have been major shifts in the lineup (at one point all three Taylors––Roger, John, and Andy––were gone) and what might qualify as a few missteps here and there but no one can say that––or at least no one can and get away with it––that Duran Duran has tarnished its imaged, lost its integrity, or ever done less than the best it could do at any given time.

This DVD is evidence of that.

Shot in Manchester, England in the twilight of 2011, A Diamond In the Mind finds the boys from Birmingham in fine, fine form. No small feat given that front Duran Simon LeBon had lost his voice earlier in the year, forcing the cancellation of numerous dates.

LeBon fought hard to find his voice again and he’s in fighting form across this outing, sounding as fine as he ever has.

Derided as––among other things––mere pinups in the early ‘80s Duran Duran was never just about good looks. The quintet evolved rather quickly, moving from its oft-forgotten (at least in North America) 1981 self-titled debut to its hook-laden sophomore release Rio (1982) to the dark, heavy, and vastly more interesting Seven and the Ragged Tiger (1983) before fracturing into The Power Station (John Taylor and Andy Taylor) and Arcadia (LeBon, Nick Rhodes, and Roger Taylor), which is either a.) a temporary split from which the band never recovered or b.) the best thing that ever happened to Duran Duran, leading to a much creative and imaginative period in the band’s evolution. (See 1986’s Notorious with LeBon, Rhodes, and John Taylor.)

(And, it should be noted, those side projects were unusual in that they were at least as good as anything the band itself did––that’s a rarity to be sure.)

All You Need Is Now (2011) is easily the best and most coherent––if at times less ambitious––record from this lot in some time the renewed energy and focus shows across the 17 tracks performed here. Not too many veteran bands are willing to slip in more than, say, two tunes from their current outing. There are no fewer than six present here. Stopping at virtually every major point in the band’s history, A Diamond In the Mind doesn’t disappoint those of us who got hooked on the band then and those of who are just finding it now.

The 1985 James Bond theme “A View to a Kill” may have seemed like one of the worst Bond themes at the time of its release but it’s aged remarkably well, sounding more in tune with today’s aesthetics than it did nearly 20 years ago. “The Man Who Stole A Leopard” and “Safe (In The Heat of the Moment)” (both from All You Need) would not have been out of place on Rio while “The Reflex” (this writer’s personal favorite––OK, that and “Wild Boys”) remains one of the group’s most exciting moments.

Duran Duran has never been above a sense of humo(u)r and the video clips which accompany the music demonstrate that especially those that accompany “Girl Panic!”, a track that would not have been out of place on the dark Seven and the Ragged Tiger but which is very much its own piece––and a welcome one at that––and very much a part of Duran Duran 2011.

Other truths also emerge: First, John Taylor is a far better bass player than he’s probably ever received credit for and, when coupled with drummer Roger Taylor, he forms one of the best pop rhythm sections around. Nick Rhodes can’t possibly be a fulltime curmudgeon, though it’s far more interesting to have someone who seems so serious hanging about. And Simon LeBon sounding as he does––as mentioned earlier––as young as ever, is also one of the most underrated rock vocalists to have emerged in the '80s.

The group also remains in touch with its roots––there are obvious (and perhaps obligatory) nods to Bowie (“White Lines”) and contemporaries Frankie Goes To Hollywood (via “Relax”, performed with the equally audacious––and aforementioned––“Wild Boys”). There is also the predictable late-show nod to the hits beginning with 1993’s “Ordinary World”, traveling to “Hungry Like The Wolf” and 2004’s “(Reach Up For The) Sunrise”. (OK, admit, you didn’t know that one did you?) The show closes out with a rousing version of “Rio”, serving once and for all as evidence that Duran Duran remains as relevant today as it was 30 years ago.

A word about the auxiliary players: Guitarist Dominic Brown is a fitting replacement for Warren Cuccurullo, the man who, along with Rhodes and LeBon, helped hold the group together for much of the '90s while percussionist Dawne Adams and backing vocalist Anna Ross all have their moments to shine (as does saxophonist Simon Willescroft).

As for extras there’s a fairly in-depth behind-the-scenes documentary about the year that was 2011 for the Durans––from a spot at Coachella to LeBon’s vocal troubles to working with director David Lynch and various points in between. There are also bonus versions of “Come Undone” and “Is There Something I Should Know?”, two tracks that clearly would not have fit in the standard running order but are welcome all the same.

To the credit of Duran Duran, there has not been a flood of greatest hits and live packages from the camp in recent years, unlike other bands that seem to issue live recordings every other week. It’s one of the many things that lend extra credibility to a release that stands free and clear on its own merits. (You can, if you wish, also purchase a CD version of A Diamond.)

Now, where’s that video retrospective? It seems like it’s time to watch “Girls On Film” again. And again.

8

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.

Music

Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.

Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.