The View from the Stage

Over its 20-year history, Duran Duran has worked with many lighting designers, including LeRoy Bennett and John Featherstone. Alex Reardon has been the band's LD since the Ultra Chrome, Latex and Steel tour in 1997. LD spoke with keyboardist Nick Rhodes before one of Duran's New York shows in March.

Nick Rhodes and Simon LeBon. Photo by Gary Oldknow.

"I have to tell you, Alex is my favorite of all, and there's a very simple reason for that: I think Alex gets into the excitement of the show. Whilst he uses a lot of programmed lights when we're doing big shows, we can take Alex into a club with a few PAR cans and a couple of strobes, and somehow he'll pull a rabbit out of the hat, and that's a special quality. I look at him as a very active part of our performance: While we're all playing our things, he's playing his too, and he's very, very good on the fly. He's very familiar with the material now, which obviously is essential for any lighting designer, but when we do something new, and we drop it on him at the last minute, he just goes with it, and that's invaluable.

"I've always found that people that we've worked with, it's essential to me that they're people I like. When you're going on tour for up to six months or more at a time, you do not want to be surrounded by people that don't get on. Alex, he's my pal, too, you know? He's got a great sense of humor, and after a grim night out, he functions the next day, so these are all very important factors.

"I really admire his aesthetic sense. I think he's very modern but knows how to use classic effects. For example, on the last tour, we used an old theatre/opera technique, with a gauze, and then revealing something further back. [See "Flash and Trash", LD October 2000, page 32.] There's not that many lighting designers out there that have that knowledge as well as the contemporary feel. Alex is very much into that.

"He's also coming from a projection background. I think it's helped us enormously when we've worked with Gary Oldknow, our projectionist, because the two of them are very sympathetic to each other and want to make the show work together. I've seen a lot of shows, and the worst thing is when the lighting guy is battling with the projectionist, and you just get lights all over the projection screen, and you think, 'Well, why have you bothered?' Alex has worked incredibly well with Gary, and they've produced some stunning things together.

"Also, I'm horribly particular about colors--the arguments I've had with lighting designers about shades of magenta. I've never raised a word about Alex's choice of colors. He just seems to hook into the feel of the song, and then he's just completely able to paint it. A lot of people just think it's pressing a few buttons--it's not, it's artistry. Our light show always gets great reviews, I know that too. Even when we don't sometimes," he concludes with an ironic smile, "he usually gets a good review."

Duran Duran recently announced its reformation with all five original members, and they are working on new music. Search for past stories on the band.

Contact the author at [email protected].