02 November 2011

Duran Duran Live

Through a rare October snowstorm, three friends and I crept towards Atlantic City, NJ to see Duran Duran live … and one of those friends, whom we shall call The Candyman (where do we get these nicknames from?), is one of those people I turn to often when it comes to questions about music. Furthermore, he is one of the people that I have the utmost respect for as a person, so it is no surprise that I have been trying to get him to write here on SlowdiveMusic Blog. So I would like to formally introduce The Candyman and share his debut review, Duran Duran Live.

Back in 1984, when Duran Duran was at the pinnacle of their pop status--when “Seven and the Ragged Tiger” topped the charts and “The Reflex” circulated heavily on radio stations and MTV -- ad nauseam, I might add -- I was a tacit fan, happily scooping up every album and 12-inch single the band had to offer. I watched and listened on the sidelines, but staunchly refused to see these boys in concert. I was determined to avoid the hordes of shrieking teenage girls that were the band’s primary fan base.

Fast forward to October 29, 2011, when I was in the audience as Duran Duran wrapped up their current North American tour, promoting their latest CD, “All You Need Is Now” at the Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The band opened with a beautiful ballad, “Before the Rain” -- from their new CD. This and other new songs sends a clear message: these Brits are neither retreads from a bygone era nor mutations of what they once were. Instead, Duran Duran is at the forefront of the revivalist movement, which is thankfully spreading across Europe like wildfire. After a few missteps in their 30-plus year career, Duran Duran have gone back to their roots with ”All You Need Is Now,” yet they remain fresh and relevant. In addition, the Fab Four, long considered a “boy band,” have a proven staying-power because their musical talents continue to mature and grow over the years. That being said, there is also no denying that Duran Duran also has a plethora of songs and chart-toppers from their discography, and they continued the concert by reminding us of that with the club hit that put them on the New Wave map: ”Planet Earth.” It was here that I was entrancingly whisked back to the early-80’s -- and, dare I say, transformed into a shrieking teenage girl, exactly of the ilk I escaped back in the day!

This was, in fact, my second Duran Duran outing: I saw them three years ago during their Red Carpet Massacre Tour and was quickly sold on them as a live act. This concert, not unlike the last, was a comfortable blend of greatest hits and cuts from their current CD. At 17 songs, it was also leaner than other dates of this tour, which boasted 19 or 20 songs in their set lists. At the Borgata, Ana Matronic of The Scissor Sisters and producer Mark Ronson were “special guests,” performing alongside lead singer Simon LeBon during “Safe” and “Leave a Light On ,” respectively -- for me, this was an unnecessary frill, but it may explain the trimming of songs. I would have preferred hearing ”Girls on Film,” “Union of the Snake” or ”Skin Trade” -- sadly omitted from this tour altogether -- to the guest players.

LeBon, who celebrated his 53rd birthday while on this tour, radiates a great charm and instantaneously connects with his audience. He offered minor bon mots throughout and joined the crowd on the floor for audience participation on two counts -- once to introduce ”The Reflex” and another to have a young lady introduce him. She was a brash woman, and so loud she was incomprehensible. (I made out the word “hot,” and LeBon was quite pleased with her blaring intro.)

The band retains three other original band members: bass guitarist John Taylor, drummer Roger Taylor, and on the keyboards, Nick Rhodes. The funky female percussionist with a tight, bright orange ponytail that bops to the beat, Dominic Brown on guitar and a soulful backup singer are pluses -- but these boys don’t need any enhancements or accoutrements -- they are in fine form musically. The concert was a pristine, slick production that consisted of graphics and lighting, none of which was distracting or excessive. The focus was the band performing, and they created an exciting energy. And despite a false start and a bit of cracking during ”Come Undone,” LeBon’s voice was as flawless as it was the first time he sang ”Wild Boys” and ”Rio,” which were the encore songs at this performance. I was more than fulfilled by this concert and can be counted in for their next tour.

Had I known back in ‘84 what I know now -- that Duran Duran puts on an enlivened stage show -- I would have seen them in concert back then over and over again and tolerated the screeching girls. Or better yet, I would have just joined in with them -- it’s more fun that way!

Set List:
1. Before the Rain
2. Planet Earth
3. A View to a Kill
4. All You Need Is Now
5. Leave a Light On
6. Come Undone
7. Reflex
8. Tiger Tiger
9. Is There Something?
10. Girl Panic
11. Ordinary World
12. Safe
13. Notorious
14. Hungry Like the Wolf
15. Sunrise

16. Wild Boys
17. Rio

Keep up with Duran Duran at their hompeage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.

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