Duran Duran, ‘Future Past’, and Everything Between

Simon Le Bon


As long as I can remember, I have loves music, I mean REALLY LOVED MUSIC. I was 9 years old in the spring of 1983, and I was slowly becoming addicted to the sounds coming out of the radio as they slowly took over my world, one song at a time. Sitting ready with a tape in the deck to record the song on American Top 40 on Sunday evenings, hoping that if the song I liked last week was on again this week, maybe in a better position than last week. Pre-Spotify days, that was how we “streamed” our music, too poor to buy records, maybe a 45 (or as the collector calls it a 7″) here or there, but for most of the time it was the talk-over of Casey Kasem on the song intro and most of the song to enjoy if I was lucky to hear the whole song that week. My brother had tapes and vinyl records that I could also copy songs from here and there, not realizing that this was just that kid getting hooked like any other drug dealer finding the young ones to pimp their product to, music was just as addicting as any substance, and it was legal to elementary school kids in Herndon Virginia, this 3rd grader was a willing customer.


All of this became a real tangible substance of a drug when I bought my very first album, for myself, with my own money, it was on the BMG record club, and I got “She’s So Unusual” by Cyndi Lauper, (A classic and no one will argue that), the other was “Rio” the sophomore album by the British new wave band Duran Duran.

I had heard all of the hits, and seen the video collection from both albums, and really enjoyed the scandalous “Girls On Film” and “The Chauffeur” videos, all the sensuality involved in all of the videos (breasts fully visible), and the artistic presentation and graphics made these videos just memorizing to watch as a young music lover, but now, I owned the vinyl album, I was now, a REAL FAN, and Duran Duran were my first “favorite band”.

I spent countless hours listening to this masterpiece, starting with “Rio” the title track, and finishing out with “The Chauffeur”, rarely skipping any songs, as each one told a different story and was so different from the other. The “HITS” are all great on this album “Rio”, “Save A Prayer”, and “Hungry Like The Wolf”, but the other album cuts were just as magnificent, and lyrically and musically had more depth than those songs getting radio play. I became a fan of their unknown songbook and spent a lot of my youth taking apart the “non-hits” as they held just as great of weight as the singles.

I had seen their live documentary film Sing Blue Silver that I loved, however, in that film, their live performance was kind of lackluster. Another film Arena had some live performance clips, and concept science fiction woven into the music, and the live was still, meh… They even released a live album Arena that was enjoyable to listen to, but having never been to a live show I had yet to understand the “Studio to the Stage” paradigm.


After their performance at Live Aid in 1985, which I thoroughly enjoyed, in the end, U2 kind of stole the show that day, and, well, my first place. Duran Duran was out of my “fave band” slot suddenly. I still loved them, but my world was changing, and so were my tastes and interests. I had listened to Duran Duran for pretty much my entire life, and they are still a favorite.

They had a low in their career for a few years with some, less than stellar albums, it seemed they were going to call it a day until they released a self-titled album, dubbed “The Wedding Album” by fans in 1993. This was the album so many of us had waited for, and they were hitting the road, and, they had magically become a fantastic live band. Bootleg tapes I had heard of early shows of this tour, along with reviews, and tickets to their shows vanished into thin air. I got a 19th-row seat to see them in 1993, on the side of a mountain. It was an amazing show, Duran Duran was back, and never to vanish again. Everything they have done since then has been stellar both on and off the stage, claiming their place in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in 2022 and plenty of Grammys, Duran Duran is historically one of the most successful bands now claiming 40+ years hanging out in the “Platinum Club” of pop acts.

FUTURE (or at least present)

So, Duran Duran is on a world tour, and rolled through Salt Lake City, so here is my experience to share with you Instinct readers.


Event: Duran Duran
Supporting Act: Bastille, Nile Rodgers & Chic.
Date: June 3, 2023
Venue: Vivint Smart Arena (The Delta Center)
City: Salt Lake City, UT



A great pop act from London, a bunch of very talented almost “kids”. They gave us a good set, with a fabulous black female vocalist, who honestly stole the show from the rest of the band. They got everyone on their feet to sing with them “Shut off the Lights I don’t need them to dance”, a “Snap” cover and their hit “Pompeii” closed out the night. They managed to get everyone on their feet and dancing, even all of us old folk turning 50 and older, they entertained even the die-hards who weren’t there to see them.

Nile Rodgers & Chic.

If you were to say “Who has touched more music with his finger and turned it to platinum?” That would be the legend, Nile Rodgers. He has produced a good chunk of my vinyl collection, you all know his work with Madonna, Mick Jagger, Grace Jones, Diana Ross, David Bowie… you get the idea. He has written with all of these greats and produced even more. The Rock and Roll landscape would not be what it is today without the contributions of Nile Rodgers. He was responsible for so many great songs in the Duran Duran catalog that it seems only fair that they bring him on the road 40 years later. He took the stage with his amazing band, giving us a tight set of hits, and honestly, it seemed weird for him to be the supporting act. I was in the presence of rock and roll greatness and loved the sheer awe. His horn section, bassist, and backup vocalists are all top-notch musicians that he has worked with, and well, a guy like him has the absolute crème de la crème to pick from. He opened with some of his own songs “Le Freak” and “Everybody Dance”, songs everyone knew, and were happy to dance to. He was playing insane guitar riffs with complete ease, songs like “Like A Virgin” and “Material Girl” from his work with Madonna, to “Modern Love” and “Let’s Dance” with David Bowie. Any opportunity to see this guy perform is worth taking, he is 70 years old, but on stage, you would have thought he was 25, creativity can maintain youth, Nile Rodgers is proof of that.

Duran Duran

As the intro tape began to play the screens flashed all kinds of images and themes from their videos, and then a video clip played of some astronauts walking down a gangway, and there they were, Duran Duran standing in front of us all at the top of the stairs showing only their silhouettes. Nick Rhodes stepped behind a screen while Roger Taylor started playing the drums, the shapes of two female vocalists were in place, while John Taylor and new addition Dom Brown took his position. Simon Le Bon the singer stood back and sang a song I never thought I would hear live “Night Boat”, which was a more horror theme idea. It was a soft, dark, and intense performance, getting everyone excited for the rest of the set. Well then, one song in, and there they are, to cheers and an unsettled sold-out arena, I get it now, they wanted everyone to be in that mood. They greeted us, and then the drums began to pound out the rhythm of my 2nd favorite song “WILD BOYS”, and it was clear and tight as if it was meant to be played live in this exact setting. While I was snapping pics, I thought “I wonder how Nile Rodgers feels, being backstage while one of his masterpieces is playing out here”. It was absolutely animated, with Dom, and John Taylor all over the stage and Simon Le Bon just leaning over with John sharing the mic to sing the chorus.


This was a metaphysical surreal moment for me, I was standing just feet away from my first fave band, while they played one of my fave songs, from almost 40 years ago, and they sounded better now than when I first fell in love with their work.

Simon said “I feel like we’ve bonded already, but just in case we didn’t” There were 3 taps on the drums and one chord of the guitar, and everyone knew it was “Hungry Like The Wolf” a timeless number that has never gotten old. Everyone sang the “Do doo” along with them, and he said “Oh you all sound so nice thank you” in between the lines. If he was ever tired of singing this song every gig for 40 years, he looked thrilled to be doing it for us tonight. They were holding true to their pledge to be a fantastic energetic live act. They had two fantastic female vocalists, one is the young Irish Rachel O’Connor who was on UK’s “The Voice” in 2014, and the other is Anna Ross, these ladies sustained the vocal greatness that evening, and we were as blessed to have it as Simon was.


As I was leaving the pit, I heard the James Bond theme, and everyone cheered for “A View To A Kill” their contribution to the James Bond world (The last Bond film with Roger Moore, staring the Goddess GRACE JONES), then 1987 single “Notorious”. They then played “Give It Up” from the new album “Future Past” which really needs more exposure and airplay because it is a great album.

They then took another venture into the “Rio” territory with “Lonely In Your Nightmare” which caught me by surprise. One of those deep album cuts, that normally makes me go into some heavy thinking, and never planned on hearing it live, it always seemed out of place to be live, and there it is, and it is an impressive delivery. Then their first hit ever “Is There Something I Should Know” had everyone singing along, that first album was fantastic, and we all have been listening to it for so long it was just in queue for performance, they could have not played a note and just asked us to sign it for them, and we could have, word for word, in perfect meter.

Simon asked if anyone was having an Anniversary, or a birthday, to which he dedicated “Anniversary” another song from the new album (You really should give it a listen, you will not be disappointed), followed up by the album track “Friend of Mine” from the debut self-titled album, that was the biggest gap for songs. When they followed up with “Careless Memories” I noticed that Simon Le Bon had sufficiently maintained his voice all this time. This is the kind of song that stresses vocals, and to still sing it as smoothly as it was the day the recorded it shows how much care he took to preserve his “instrument”. As he walks around just putting the microphone in his pocket, and jokes about having a cylindrical object in his trousers.

Simon was commenting on what a fantastic audience we were, “Everything we give you, you give us back double”. He then talked about the story of Duran Duran, in 1992 when they thought it was over, and they were in a little living room in Battersea (London) this song was about learning to accept the life you were given, not what you planned, to deal with loss and grief. He dedicated it to everyone who needed to connect to someone else and he also dedicated it to the people of Ukraine, and they played the “comeback” piece that cemented them into rock and roll history “Ordinary World”, there wasn’t a dry eye in the venue.

Nick Rhodes documenting the evening

He then said “Hey, let’s spice it up a bit, like something “STEAMY” like between the bathroom to the bedroom”… He invited Anna Ross to come and sing “Come Undone” with him in the front, because, well, it is that kind of a ballad, that has a guitar echoing, and it managed to do the same in this vast arena, it was written to be played in an echo chamber. There were times when he had to go and look at his set list, to know what he was supposed to sing next, and unlike previous concert films, it seemed a lot less “Choreographed”, which made the whole performance seem much more real, and at times very spontaneous.

Simon then introduced the band, while Nick Rhodes was out taking photos of the audience with his phone from the stage. I guess, he can do that he is Nick Rhodes, the synth god, who discovered Limahl and Kajagoogoo. This was where we all felt the absence of the original guitarist Andy Taylor, who is at this moment fighting prostate cancer. Andy is a charming guy and a fantastic musician, and he was missed by everyone. They then played “Planet Earth” with the Barbarella-themed visuals on the screens, which inspired them to name the band Duran Duran, after one of the villains in the film.

“The Reflex” is probably their biggest hit from the 80s, spawning countless dance remixes and I even remember dancing to it at the raves in 1992, we were all singing “TA LA LA LA!!!!” along with them just even opening the song. They then played the salacious “Girls On Film” one of those videos that had all the skin, and was banned and had to have special edits for viewing on MTV. Duran Duran took a lot of flack over that song, about girls posing nude and getting paid for it, so they played a tongue-in-cheek “apology” into this song called “Acceptable in the 80s” to close out the main set.


After a few minutes of a crowd screaming for an encore, Simon Le Bon came out wearing a Utah Jazz t-shirt, while John wore a Jazz game jersey. He bantered with us for a while, telling us how we live between the most beautiful mountains he has ever seen. When people were cheering at him, for just a joke here or there, he said “Oh yeah, you can keep cheering, I don’t mind” and asked the lighting guys to light everything up, just to get everyone worked up. They were wanting to connect with the audience more now, as an experience, and less as a “Production”, and everyone was feeling it. I guess at 64, and playing some of these songs for 40 years, they know how much it all means to us. They never expected to be still doing this in their early to mid-60s, and it meant so much more to them now than it ever has to play these songs. They made a promise 30 years ago to do this for us, and they have kept it by delivering a performance like this.

Simon asked everyone to take out their phones and turn on the flashlight, then they turned off all the lights on the stage. The entire venue was illuminated by the audience, he told us how beautiful it was to see us like that, and then he asked us all to sing “Save a Prayer” with him. It was a unifying experience to sing such a great ballad with him, as we all knew the song note for note, he played his acoustic guitar and the band played off of us singing. There is nothing more powerful than the shared experience, with so many doing this at once, we all felt connected to the band and each other. A somber moment from the song, as the first time I remembered it touching me was in the film “Sing Blue Silver” They sang it in tribute to Marvin Gaye who had been shot the day before. The song still carries that kind of spirit to it.

We all knew this was the closing number, and it was a toss-up guess as to what it would be, I avoided looking at the setlists, but I wanted to hear “New Moon on Monday”, I knew they weren’t going to play “Hold Back The Rain” or “Skin Trade” so what was going to finish out this magnificent evening?

They closed with the epic “RIO” the first single to break in the US, and the one that took me down this long wonderful road with them.


We walked out of the arena in a state of wonder and euphoria, everyone agreeing that Duran Duran, like everything French that inspires them, is like fine French wine, they have gotten better as they got older. Not just in sound, but in a sort of wisdom and appreciation for the fans. Duran Duran could have pulled so many gems from their catalog and kept all of us entertained for several hours, when you have so much music to work with, there is no way to pick a set list to put into a single evening. However, I am grateful for what they gave us, and how they gave it to us.

Simon Le Bon

If you want to have this kind of experience, there are plenty of dates left on this tour, I just don’t know if there are any tickets available. To anyone lucky enough to be catching the shows in NYC, the supporting act will be the LGBTQ Inspiration and community icon GRACE JONES. (Yeah she inspired them, and kicked Simon’s ass in the video for “View To a Kill”) That is worth whatever you would do for a ticket to see such legends all on the same bill.

Thank you, Simon, Nick, John, Roger, and Andy for all the great memories, both “Past and Future”.


*Andy Taylor, we love you, and missed you, and wish you good health.


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