Duran Duran – Arena

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Album Review by EDF

It was the rivalry of the 1980’s. Who did you like Duran Duran or Spandau Ballet? Spandau were slick but bland whereas Duran were always the more adventurous and exciting of the two. This prompted them to release a live album at the height of their powers in 1984, a year before the original 5 piece broke up. Could they hack it live? Not surprisingly, they could. Years of band practice in sweaty recording studios paid off and the results are rewarding.

Kicking off with their first number one single IS THERE SOMETHING I SHOULD KNOW, Simon Le Bon and co sound tight, very tight. The audience sound like they are in the stadium next door. In fact the concert was recorded in Oakland, California but does not sound like it is the full concert. As with most live albums around that period, to find a full live concert was a rare thing indeed as quality was always picked above quantity. That means we can enjoy Simon howling away on HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF or singing his heart out on SAVE A PRAYER.

In a way ARENA could be seen as a live greatest hits package except not all the tracks are live. WILD BOYS is featured here but it is the single version that is included, probably added at the time as a bonus track as it was not issued on any of their previous albums. The rest of the album concentrates on their earlier works such as THE CHAUFFEUR and PLANET EARTH. UNION OF THE SNAKE is like a glimpse of how funky Duran Duran Mark 2 would become.

Included on this re-issue are two bonus tracks taken from the same concert, GIRLS ON FILM and RIO. There is no doubt that Duran Duran were easily a great live band and few bands have managed to successfully convince their audience and doubters to what they were capable of. If memory serves me correct, I believe that Spandau never released a live album.

5 stars