Move over, Muse! Duran Duran to fly 300 drones above NASA while performing for astronauts at moon landing anniversary gig

'80s pop icons also tell NME of some big guests on their next album

Duran Duran are to fly 300 drones above NASA airspace tonight (July 16) at a special concert to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.

The concert will take place at the rocket park in Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. It sees the iconic ’80s band playing a selection of their space-themed hits including ‘Planet Earth’, ‘New Moon On Monday’ and ‘Astronaut’ to an audience which will include all the surviving astronauts who have walked on the moon.

The band had to get special permission before being allowed to have the drones appear during their 90-minute performance, which will also feature an orchestra and 40-piece choir.

Keyboardist Nick Rhodes told NME: “The concert has been quite late to plan, because there’s been a lot of bureaucracy involved. There’s all kinds of security issues, because NASA don’t usually allow anything to fly over their airspace and we’ve got 300 drones swarming in formation.”

Speaking of the space songs section of their 90-minute set, Rhodes said: “This concert is clearly something that’ll only happen once in our lifetime, so we wanted to make it special. We’re also playing The Police‘s ‘Walking On The Moon’, which will be fun.”

Two specially-designed Duran Duran augmented reality T-shirts at the concert feature an imprinted video screen which show footage of either the Apollo 11 rocket taking off in 1969 or Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon. Proceeds of the concert go to space exploration charity Aldrin Family Foundation.

Rhodes was seven when Armstrong first walked on the moon on July 16, 1969. He recalled: “My father went out to buy our family’s first colour television, so we could watch it in the best possible way. The fabulous irony was, it was then broadcast in black-and-white.

“Everyone in my class instantly wanted to become astronauts. There are a million questions to be asked about why we haven’t been back to the moon since 1972. I don’t know why, but I hope we return soon, so a new generation can be enthused.”

The show comes as Duran Duran are working on their first new album since ‘Paper Gods’ in 2015.

Rhodes revealed the album is being produced by Mark Ronson and Erol Alkan. Ronson also co-produced ‘Paper Gods’ and Duran Duran’s previous album ‘All You Need Is Now’ in 2010.

“We’ve done a song with Lykke Li on one of the sessions with Mark, and she was great,” said Rhodes. “Graham Coxon has been working on some of the record, and he’s obviously a terrific guitarist. There are a lot of cool artists, younger and older, who we’d love to do something with. If any of them are interested, please write us a postcard.”

Rhodes said Duran Duran had been working on the album since the start of the year, adding: “There’s one song so far that’s a frontrunner to be the first single. It’s just so different from anything I’ve heard from us before, or actually anyone else. There’s a dance element to it. The construction of it, the melodic content, the lyrics, some of the sounds… they’re very different for us.”

He added a release in late spring next year for the album “looks realistic”.