I had the privilege to see Duran Duran before they hit it big, at a small club on Long Island called Malibu. At that point, they were only heard on a few alternative – or “New Wave” – radio stations, including WLIR (later WDRE) on Long Island. They were a natural fit for the club and played some hits from their first album. It was when their second album, Rio was released and the music videos were put in heavy rotation on MTV that they reached mega-stardom and I never had the opportunity to see them play live again.
In 1984, Duran Duran toured the U.S. and Canada. It was just prior to what many fans consider the demise of the band for almost twenty years, although some of the original lineup still toured and recorded under the name. In 1985, the original lineup fractured apart to work on various other projects and they didn‘t play together again until 2003.
Sing Blue Silver is from that last tour in 1984. Director Russell Mulcahy filmed the band as they traveled the road, including all of the press conferences and promotional appearances the tour entailed. It definitely shows the rigors of the road, for even as they are reveling in their stardom, they are coping with reporters who must ask a question to quantify that they are doing their job. One of the questions asked during one of the press conferences is “when did you learn to use your instrument?” which leads to some hysterical answers. There are also clips of the issues which go into a concert including the tug of war between the production crew and the venue.
If you haven’t seen the footage on Sing Blue Silver before, anyone who watched MTV back in those early days will recognize some of it. Some of this footage from this tour was used in the video for The Reflex which was one of the songs by the band in heavy rotation back when MTV actually did play music videos.
I really enjoyed Sing Blue Silver. There’s a good balance of clips from behind the scenes along with the live performance. Maybe there wasn’t enough concert footage overall, but I found that in the 85 minutes of video it was pretty well-balanced. The pace of the film is great as it doesn’t spend so much time focusing on the stage that it gets bogged down in that. The editing together of the footage is great as the moments behind the scenes do a lot to keep me interested.
Some of the highlights of these behind-the-scenes moments are the band getting football jerseys from the then-Superbowl Champion L.A. Raiders. There are funny, eye-rolling moments when they are at a meeting with Coca-Cola executives (Coke sponsored the tour) and they look like they want to be anywhere else. A spokesman who for some reason reminds me of Borat asks John Taylor to come up on the dais where John promptly tells everyone he prefers Pepsi.
Seeing the soundcheck is pretty cool. If you’ve never seen a band’s sound-check, it’s a lot of fun and the band usually gets the chance to cut up a bit. I’ve heard some terrific covers of classic rock songs at sound checks, but alas, we aren’t treated to that here.
The concert footage had been cleaned up for the DVD release. It’s nice and clear and it sounded really great. Obviously, it was remixed from the original tape and I’m glad they had a decent copy to work from. The music sounds great and I could clearly hear the band when they talked backstage, rather than having their voices garbled and muddy. The music sounds great as well, whether I played it on my notebook computer or HDTV.
If you’re like me and remember the band when all this was going on, Sing Blue Silver is a wonderful trip down memory lane to the clothes and hair of the early to mid 1980s. I loved watching it and my teenager even paused to watch it for a while as well. I don’t think she was quite as taken with John Taylor as I was, though.
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