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Simon Le Bon: ‘I’ve had a lot of fun in Ireland. I once ended up in Lisdoonvarna. I was the only guy with a girlfriend’

At 3Arena in Dublin on Sunday, Duran Duran did a magnificent job of reeling in the years and rolling out the hits

Duran Duran

3Arena, Dublin

Whether it’s the blockbusting popularity of Stranger Things, the return of Tom Cruise’s Top Gun or the rekindling of the cold war, the 1980s revival has come hurtling at us at full speed in recent years.

Such a climate feels perfect for the second coming of Duran Duran. But the band have done their best to keep nostalgia at arm’s length in their four decades as pop’s pre-eminent peacocks. They’ve stayed clear of those bleak retro festivals where The Human League share the bill with Kajagoogoo and have continued to release new music.

Yet nostalgia has come for them all the same. A Dublin gig marking their 40th anniversary as megastars doubled as a celebration of the 1980s, when the group were tall-haired, razor-cheekboned lords of all they surveyed.

Simon Le Bon and his bandmates didn’t seem to mind. In theory, this show had the dual purpose of acknowledging their 40th birthday while promoting their thoroughly solid 2021 LP, Future Past. It’s a synth-fuelled return to form, with cameos from the producer Mark Ronson and Blur’s Graham Coxon.


Nobody cared about that. Duran Duran’s job was to reel in the years and roll out the hits. They did so magnificently, starting with Night Boat, a slab of frothy cyberpop from their self-titled 1981 debut album (this 40th-anniversary tour having started in 2021). That was followed by Wild Boys. A Valentine to lock-up-your-daughters irrepressibility, it was gulped down joyously by an audience who seemed to have been around for Duran Duran’s pomp and had the laughter lines to show it.

A Duran Duran show brings with it certain expectations. There will be number-one singles, great hair and more sax solos that you can shake a rolled-up copy of Smash Hits at. What nobody anticipated as they returned to Dublin was an anecdote about Le Bon visiting the world’s matchmaking capital in the late 1970s. “I’ve had a lot of fun in this country,” the frontman said. “I once went to Ireland on a driving holiday and we ended up in this town, Lisdoonvarna. I was the only guy with a girlfriend. We got out of there pretty quickly.”

Duran Duran were fantastically preposterous during their prime. The group are more restrained nowadays – though keyboardist Nick Rhodes’s pink suit was easily as ludicrous as anything he’d worn on Top of The Pops. Le Bon, in head-to-toe Day-Glo green, was restrained by comparison. The only sobering note was the absence of the band’s original guitarist Andy Taylor, who is battling stage-four cancer. He was replaced by the Marty McFly lookalike Dom Brown.

Those old smashes had lost none of their neon silliness. This was made clear by Hungry Like the Wolf, a showcase both for LeBon’s fine booming voice and for bassist John Taylor’s ability to look as if he was both playing his heart out and suffering a sudden case of ants in his pants.

Bruce Springsteen was rocking Dublin for the second night as Duran Duran wended their way through their hit parade, concluding with the one-two of Save a Prayer and Rio, the latter the musical manifestation of circumnavigating Miami by luxury yacht. Springsteen beats Duran Duran for concert length, with his marathon three-hour show, but, for sheer fun, Le Bon and the boys proved impossible to beat.

Ed Power

Ed Power

Ed Power, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about television and other cultural topics