IT IS difficult for young people to imagine, today, the kind of excitement that was generated by the new breed of British pop bands that emerged at the beginning of the eighties. Duran Duran, the most successful of those New Romantic bands, caused mass hysteria wherever they went, not least of all in Lisbon where they played a concert in Cascais in 1983.
“Then, the group was literally besieged at the airport by thousands and thousands of fans, mostly girls,” recalls Rui Martins, who fronted the Duran Duran Fan Club for more than five years. “I remember being interviewed by the then young radio journalist, Manuela Moura Guedes, who asked us from where we operated our fan club. “When I mistakenly gave out our address, the following day, literally sack loads of mail arrived from all over the country – it was phenomenal!”
Now, 24 years later, Rui Martins and his other co-fan organisers asked me to join them in a box they had reserved at Lisbon’s Coliseu for a trip down memory lane. The original Duran Duran line-up were back in town and clearly had lost none of their old magic, if the 12,000 audience was anything to go by.
Most of the band members have changed beyond all recognition, no longer the svelte, good-looking heart-throbs they once were. All except, that is, Simon Le Bon, who seems exactly the same – still tall, thin and feline, with bags of energy. “Are you feeling hungry?” he asks the crowd before breaking into the 1981 worldwide hit, Hungry Like the Wolf, the song that raised the Birmingham band to international stardom overnight.
So the hair is a little less bleached, the make-up rather more toned down and the loafers have been replaced by Chelsea boots, but, nevertheless, the sound, innovative at the time but inevitably rather dated now, was good and Le Bon, originally from London, was in full fettle.
The Astronaut Tour took the 30 and 40-something year olds legion of, once again, hysterical fans down memory lane to classics like Reflex, Rio, View to a Kill and, of course, Planet Earth. “I’ve grown up, I’m married and I’ve got two children who think it’s all immensely funny. But I won’t be getting hysterical; it’s just like any other concert,” says Maria João Martins, lying to me through her teeth.
“It’s nice to take a trip down memory lane as these were the best years of my life, when I really ‘gozei’,” says Maria João from Santo Tirso to coin a Portuguese phrase that roughly equates to ‘really lived it’.
But it was interesting to see them all acting like teenagers, along with the rest of the Coliseu. Honestly, you’d think grown women would have known better! Chris Graeme