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Concert Reviews: Duran Duran in concert
Duran Duran
Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium
Columbus, OH
March 28, 2005

by: David Medsker

David Medsker Home / CD Reviews / Entertainment Channel

When they first hit the scene is 1981, Duran Duran were cool, dude. They made stylish and sexy videos, but more importantly, they were a kickass live band with a sound all their own. All of that, of course, was lost when the whole Fab Five hysteria set in, and the critics who hailed them not five minutes earlier suddenly declared them to be the death of pop music as we knew it.

Twenty five years later, they’re getting the last laugh. Reunited as a quintet for the first time since 1985’s “A View to a Kill” (not coincidentally, their last #1 single), Duran Duran are on a very successful US tour and enjoying some of their best press ever. From the looks of things at their performance at Columbus’ Veteran’s Memorial, the change of fortune has rejuvenated them considerably.

They’re still not above exploiting their hero worship, though. With a moody instrumental electronic track lumbering in the background, the band walks to the front of the stage – to the thundering sound of their ever-faithful, screaming female fan base - backlit by flickering strobe lights. They stand there, side by side, for about a minute. It was a symbolic gesture, meaning that they know that they were only at their best when those five were together. The set that followed confirmed it.

In fact, the set list was full of surprises, though not at first. After opening with a hard edged version of “Sunrise” that was far superior to the overproduced album version, the band gave the people what they wanted in the form of “Hungry Like The Wolf” and “Planet Earth.” Even sax player Andy Hamilton, their unofficial sixth member back in the day, jumped in on the latter song. After that came two more songs from new album Astronaut – the title track and ballad “Chains” – with “Union of the Snake” sandwiched in between, featuring another Hamilton solo. Hey, if they’re going to bring the guy with them, they may as well keep him busy.

It was at this point that the set list got interesting. The band launched into “Hold Back the Rain,” a Rio hallmark and fan favorite. Next came the current single, the autobiographical “What Happens Tomorrow” (lead singer Simon LeBon appeared to be singing the second verse of “Fighting because we’re so close / There are times we punish those who we need the most” directly to guitarist Andy Taylor). Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the instrumental “Tiger Tiger.” (Again, more work for Hamilton.) It was a well executed misdirection, as it afforded Simon the time to leave the stage and return wearing….a chauffeur’s cap.

The best song on Rio, and arguably the band’s best song ever, “The Chauffeur” was one of the evening’s highlights. The band clearly still loves playing the song, too. Bassist John Taylor was bouncing slightly to drummer Roger Taylor’s, er, driving beat. After two more ballads (“Save a Prayer” and “Ordinary World”), the band put on a hits parade, with “Notorious,” “Is There Something I Should Know,” “Wild Boys,” and “Careless Memories,” the last of which was easily the highlight of the evening. There were five separate portrait-shaped video screens above the stage, and the video they showed during “Memories” was phenomenal. A tribute to Japanese animation, they showed each band member taking on gangs of mask-wearing ninjas, using their instruments as weapons. (Andy would stab guys with his guitar, while Roger would split skulls by using his cymbals like fighting stars.) At the end, a larger-than-life Simon destroys a building holding a meeting of the Endangered Music Industry (look at the initials). It was priceless.

After a brief break, the band returned for two encores, “Girls on Film” and “Rio.” During the band introductions in the former, Hamilton played the theme from “The Simpsons,” John played a riff of “25 or 6 to 4,” while Andy played “Back In Black.” (They also did a bit of Dee-Lite’s “Groove Is In the Heart” as well.) Upon the completion of “Rio,” the band stood at the front of the stage again, waving, bowing, and clearly grateful that they were given a second chance.

The overall sound of the show was quite good, though not perfect. Roger’s drums seemed to go in and out of the mix, sometimes within the same song. Andy was in full hard rock mode, to the point where he sometimes drowned out keyboardist Nick Rhodes completely. This is understandable though; Andy’s father passed away last week, and he is likely venting some frustration. Simon was a trooper: clearly battling a cold and blowing his nose at every opportunity, he did not show an ounce of quit in his voice. He did have the audience sing more than usual, though it’s unclear if that was due to technical problems or his illness.

Despite the general lack of attention Astronaut has received – which is a shame, because the song “Nice” has hit single written all over it – Duran Duran has to be happy with the way things are going. By all rights, after years of drugs, infighting and an ever-changing lineup, this band should have disintegrated the way that nearly all of their peers did. But they didn’t. They survived, and are now reaping the benefits. Well done, lads.

Set List
Hungry Like The Wolf
Planet Earth
Union of the Snake
Hold Back the Rain
What Happens Tomorrow
A View to a Kill
Tiger Tiger
The Chauffeur
Ordinary World
Save a Prayer
Is There Something I Should Know?
Careless Memories
Wild Boys

Girls on Film

Send any questions or comments to dmedsker@bullz-eye.com.  





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