One of the things that seems very particular to Dubai is the constant stream of old-school performers who hit our shores. The cynics out there will read it as a pure nostalgia trip for the legions of expat veterans. Others, as a celebration of artists who, in the main, really had to master their craft by writing great songs and being able to perform not only for their records but also in the live environment.
I am proud to say that I was excited when I came to know that Duran Duran were playing here and dutifully bought tickets. Duran Duran were globally successful way back in the Eighties and I guess at the time they were loved and hated in equal measure. The girls loved them because they were a group of good-looking boys who arrived on the wave of the New Romantic scene singing about far-off places and projecting a lifestyle of glamour and opulence. For many they took the medium of the pop video to new levels at a time when MTV was revolutionising cable networks everywhere.
For their haters, they represented a style over content package, making millions off the back of gullible teeny-boppers blinded by expensive suits, make-up and slushy pop sentimentality.
For me, I thought they were great back then, making at least one album of perfect pop. Not songs that would change your life or make you reappraise the world with new insight, but creators of good pop songs, with nice melodies that made you happy when you heard them. Because of that, I bought their records and over the years went to see them at numerous shows.
Back to the present, I was curious as to how a now near 50-year-old group of guys would match up to my last memories of them.
On an almost perfect night at The Sevens last month, under the most magical of full moons, I can honestly say from my heart, that they didn't disappoint! With four out of the five original members, they proved they are true masters of their art. The band carefully selected from their enormous back catalogue a perfectly balanced set of classics interspersed with some new numbers that kept the fans enthralled throughout the performance. Proof indeed that musicians only get better over the years.
The biggest challenge these acts face is whether the vocalist still has the voice to provide the essential element that makes it rock, and Simon Le Bon delivered like a warrior. It seems that he now has a better understanding of how to use his voice than ever, and lead his troops into the battle.
Duran Duran managed to deliver an evening that transcended merely playing 25 songs to entertain by creating an experience that the crowd seemed to feel rather than just hear! And the dedication of the wonderful pop moment that is Ordinary World was heartfelt, poignant and impactful for those privileged to share it.