Duran Duran exclusive – Simon Le Bon tells Classic Pop “I wish I could have been in the audience for our Nasa show!”
Duran Duran singer Simon Le Bon has told Classic Pop he was “overwhelmed” by the band’s special show marking the 50th anniversary of the first moon landings on Tuesday, when they played at Kennedy Space Centre with 300 drones swarming in formation as they performed.
The 90-minute show, in front of a VIP audience, including the surviving astronauts to have walked on the moon, opened with the drones flying as Duran Duran played in the rocket park at Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.
A clip of the show can be viewed here.
“It was an amazing show, it was overwhelming,” Simon told Classic Pop. “I wanted to be in the audience so badly for that show! Everything about it was incredible – the setting, having the full moon above us and then there was the extraordinary drone show programmed by the art collective Studio Drift.”
Simon admitted he was so caught up watching the drones’ “performance” that he was initially reluctant to play the show. Duran Duran had rearranged their song The Universe Alone from 2015’s Paper Gods album for the start of the concert. Simon said: “I didn’t have to step onstage until the music was already going, so for the first two minutes I was watching the drones from the side of the stage. I was so captivated that I didn’t really want to leave! But as soon as I’m onstage, I become very single-minded about making the connection with the audience. You know you’re part of something bigger than yourself, and you just concentrate on your part in this special show. All shows are like that, but this one particularly so.”
The performance also featured a 40-piece choir and an orchestra. Simon said: “I couldn’t see the drones once I was onstage, as they were above and behind me. But watching them before I went on was so fascinating. They almost looked like a murmuration of starlings, like a dance in the sky. Lights were shining, they were changing colour, and it was great to rework The Universe Alone for that introduction.”
Proceeds from the show went to Buzz Aldrin’s charity Aldrin Family Foundation. Two special T-shirts at the show were imprinted with a video screen showing footage of either Apollo 11 taking off or Aldrin and Neil Armstrong walking on the moon.
Simon said: “For that first moon landing, I watched it on TV. I was nine at the time and it felt totally natural – ‘Of course we can put man on the moon.’ It wasn’t until decades later that I realised the significance of it and what a special achievement it was. That’s when you go ‘Wow! I saw that happen! I watched it on TV as it happened!’”
The show came as Duran are working on their first album since Paper Gods. It’s being produced by Mark Ronson – who also worked on Paper Gods and 2010’s All You Need Is Now – with new Duran producer Erol Alkan. Guests include Lykke Li and Blur guitarist Graham Coxon.
Duran Duran haven’t played a full UK show since headlining Common People festival in 2016, with their last tour back home in 2015. Simon vowed Duran will play UK shows around the new album, which Nick Rhodes said could “realistically” be released in late spring next year. Simon said: “It’s been bloody ages since we played at home, I know! Every time I go anywhere, people ask me ‘When are you playing in England?’ It needs to happen, and it absolutely will once the new album happens.”
There will be a full six-page interview with Duran Duran in Classic Pop on sale 29 August. The band give us an exclusive insight into their new album and their 40th anniversary.