Taking things right back to the start, the the original British New Romantics kicked off the night with old school anthem ‘Wild Boys’, joined by the ever-enthusiastic fanbase who needed no prompting to sing at the top of their lungs.
Oozing charisma, lead singer Simon Le Bon stood centre stage, smiling, hands aloft, soaking in the adulation, his powerful, instantly recognisable tones confidently ringing out. Sharing his mic with bassist John Taylor, the front man dance, pranced, and lapped up the rapturous response they were receiving.
Following with another vintage number in 1981's ‘Anyone Out There', Simon greeted the crowd saying; “Good evening St. Anne’s Park. This looks pretty good to me, and you’re looking beautiful!”
Jumping forward forty-odd years, the band launched into ‘Invisible’ and ‘All of You’ from current album ‘Future Past’. Justifiably proud of the new set - which features Blur six stringer Graham Coxon on guitar - the band delved deeper into the album as the evening progressed, with ‘Give It All Up’ and ‘Tonight United’ following later. With the fans familiar with the new material and singing along, a satisfied Le Bon exclaimed simply; “Love it!”
However it was the singles that made Duran Duran, and as the night wore on, they kept coming; from 1985 James Bond theme ‘A View to a Kill’, to the Nile Rodgers-produced ‘Notorious’, and understated later-period classic ‘Come Undone’.
Taking time to acknowledge their four decades in music, Simon paused and amitted; “You guys have kept us going; you guys have been there for us, through good, and not so good times. It’s a long and loving relationship.”
It's easy to block out the real world at an event like this, but taking a more sober turn, the front man expertly and sensitively touched on recent world events. “We’re in a world of trouble again. It’s one thing after another; two years of Covid... It’s unspeakable what’s happening out in Ukraine", he acknowledged, continuing; "This one is dedicated to the people of Ukraine. Believing in the goodness we can make in our own lives, not being frightened of the world. Knowing that there’s a beautiful world that we can strive to achieve.” With that, and with the Ukrainian flag projected onto the stage, the heartfelt lyrics of ‘Ordinary World’ took on a new meaning.
This was however, a Duran Duran show, and still featuring four of their original five members - Le Bon, Taylor, keysman Nick Rhodes, and drummer RogerTaylor - plus guitarist Dom Brown and “our very own Derry girl!”, backing singer Rachael O’Connor, the augmented act cranked up the mood in the park once more, with an out of this world 'Planet Earth' and set closer 'Girls on Film'.
Encoring with 1982’s ‘The Chauffeur’, it segued into the incomparable ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’ before Le Bon teased 'What’s it going to be?' ahead of, arguably, the band's defining track, in the closing 'Rio'.
“It’s true what they say about Dublin audiences", said Simon as the band took their bows; "You’re the best!”
The fans got what they came for, and with that kind of flattery, the Birmingham boys will be welcome back any time.
By Christina Keogh.
Check out our gallery from the show below. All photos by Darren McLoughlin.