YouTube Live: Duran Duran’s As The Lights Go Down

“Notorious”? Sampled for a less-than-worthy posthumous Biggie release, indirectly introducing a new generation to Duran Duran. “Hungry Like The Wolf”? Staple ’80s mixed tape hit track, regardless. “Girls On Film”? There was a controversy of some kind for the music video, and that is the extent of my Duran Duran knowledge. To me, they represent one of a multitude of pop acts that reigned in the 1980s; they were not a one-hit wonder however, all of the singles were extremely popular, and for this, Duran Duran has had remarkable staying power over the years, its fan base never entirely waning.

Sonically, groups like this bring to mind images of hot orange-pink Jordache clothing, or questions like “Whatever happened to Midnight Oil?”. This is not a dossier on English pop rock or New Wave, however — this is about Duran Duran, and for all intents and purposes, they are back. One can only hope the resurgence does not go the way of The Who, circa “Eminence Front”.

Duran Duran was big in 1984, and that is not even close to an unabridged dissection. Duran Duran was very, very big, and arena shows were all the rage back then, so fittingly enough, Duran Duran had hits and charisma on its side for such an endeavor. In the spirit of David Byrne’s Stop Making Sense, another concert film was released to VHS during 1984, entitled Arena (An Absurd Notion). The live album, Arena, was recorded during the 1983/’84 Sing Blue Silver tour, the one that extensively promoted the then-new release of Seven And The Ragged Tiger; this tour spawned elaborate live sets, a behind-the-scenes documentary, and the aforementioned conceptual concert movie that surrealistically tried capturing Duran Duran’s band name origin (Barbarella‘s chief villain, Durand Durand, apparently) while also doling out quality live footage.

Via Cinemax and MTV (wow, MTV was important back then!), Duran Duran cut and trimmed the Arena footage for a strictly-televised broadcast that never saw release on any other medium — until YouTube came along. Before DVR, us lowly hearts of the scrambled cable age once transferred shows (late-night “Skinemax” pieces included) to blank tapes: music videos, Pay-Per-View specials, and, of course, premium channel specials. As The Lights Go Down could be viewed as a long-form music video of sorts, compressing Arena down for mass consumption by those who had cable in 1984, and thus the two segments for “The Chauffeur” and “Rio” came to be.

I do not have any real background to the set pieces for our first inclusion, but it is safe to say that, in all of my viewings of live footage, this Duran Duran snippet stands as one of the more unique ones — my best guess is Durand Durand tries sabotaging the show with tuning equipment and shadow-clad lackies. As for “Rio”, it’s relatively standard fan-shot stuff, albeit with minor twists and turns (I’m curious what that is in the giant balloon). Now, for your viewing and listening pleasure, I give you Duran Duran…on forks, and in concert.

“The Chauffeur” (Live)

“Rio” (Live)


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