As you may have noticed, the Commonwealth Games are currently taking place in Birmingham.
Naturally, the athletes have been centre stage, but the event has also put the spotlight on the Midlands’ musical legacy, including local heroes Duran Duran.
They were the main attraction at the Games’ opening ceremony, and if that whetted your appetite for more from Simon Le Bon and co, you’re in luck, as tonight the BBC brings Duran Duran: Radio 2 in Concert.
The set was recorded back in December, and was the culmination of a big year for the band, who were marking 40 years since the release of their self-titled debut album. Earlier in 2021, they had been the subject of a two-part Radio 2 documentary, Duran Duran at 40, presented by self-confessed superfan Claudia Winkleman.
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In fact, the group are technically a little older than that – they were formed in 1978 by keyboardist Nick Rhodes and bassist John Taylor, and named after the character Dr Durand Durand in the sci-film Barbarella. Drummer Roger Taylor joined the following year, while singer Le Bon and guitarist Andy Taylor (although it seems like a huge coincidence that three members of the five-piece band have the same surname, none of the Taylors are related) were in place by mid-1980.
From there, success came pretty quickly – they were the subject of a label bidding war and released their debut single, Planet Earth, in 1981. It reached a respectable number 12 in their charts, but it was their third single, Girls on Film (which came complete with an eye-catching video) that really catapulted them to stardom and made them a hit on the newly launched MTV.
They were soon a sensation – Princess Diana said they were her favourite band, Simon Le Bon and John Taylor had a stranglehold on the Smash Hits Readers Poll award for Most Fanciable Male from 1982 to 1986, and they were racking up hits on both sides of the Atlantic.
However, by the late 1980s, the strain was beginning to show – there would be line-up changes, and their 1993 album, their second to simply be titled Duran Duran, which contained the hits Ordinary World and Come Undone, was seen as something of a comeback.
Since then, there have been more hiatuses, but their fans have never deserted them – their 15th studio album, Future Past, which was released in 2021 and found them collaborating with Mark Ronson and Blur’s Graham Coxon, reached number three in the UK album chart.
So, they will have plenty of hits to choose from this set, which contains a mix of new tracks and old favourites.
There’s more music from the Midlands in Sounds of Birmingham at the BBC at 8pm. It includes footage of Black Sabbath performing Paranoid, which gets its first airing since 1970, as well as clips from UB40, Dexys Midnight Runners, Judas Priest, Joan Armatrading, ELO and Laura Mvula. There’s are also an appearance from the Streets, who will be cropping up again later tonight in Electric Proms.