Duran Duran | 10.04.11

These guys weren’t doing it for the money; they were doing because this is what they do.

 

 

 

1st Bank Center
Broomfield, Colo.

If musical historians could have gazed into a crystal ball and pioneered the future, they might have guessed back in 1988 that if Duran Duran were still around in 2011, the band would most certainly be a canned-product caricature of themselves playing a series of one-off shows of hit-single packages in a half-filled low-brow club on the coast of Cuba. That was then; this is now.
At a time when most musical acts with Duran Duran’s pedigree might have cashed in their Hall of Fame career for a residency stay at a high-end Vegas casino, D2 have entered their fourth decade not only touring under their own volition, but financing the tour, as well. The “All You Need Is Now Tour” showcases their latest release of the same name, as well as the tall tale that is Duran Duran.
The early fall evening at Colorado’s 1st Bank Center flaunted and flashed the dichotomy that is Duran Duran. Their following consisted of lay fans eager to recreate their early adolescence, along with musical enthusiasts who were eager to see if D2 still had “it.” The former thrived upon those early hits of “Planet Earth,” “The Reflex,” and “Notorious,” while the latter smiled deviously and nodded approvingly at the integrity of their latest release All You Need is Now and its future classics of “Safe (In the Heat of the Moment)” and the titular “All You Need is Now.”
This show could easily have been billed an “Evening With” presentation—and if the Duran boys really wanted to cash in (which they don’t), they could have packaged it as so many other acts have in recent years: under the “Farewell Tour” banner. But this is no farewell tour because this is no farewell act. Like it or not, the future Hall of Famers and the second famous band from Birmingham (with a courteous nod to Black Sabbath) are not riding Simon LeBon’s famous yacht into the sunset of retirement.
Such is the case that, as so many other acts have sought tenure in the business, Duran Duran are still—pardon the cliché—redefining themselves, still eager for acceptance in the post-MTV generation. This was evident from the outset of the metronomic funereal tick-tock of “Before the Rain,” the antithesis of opening numbers: it is the closing song on their latest release.
The evening began on a drowsy note, as Duran Duran arrived in a haze of walking through a séance. If this was their statement of artistic freedom, so be it. Simon LeBon’s crawling croon complimented Nick Rhodes’ moody synthesizer and for once the world was not cupcakes and sunshine. The world is not always, dare I say it…eyeliner and lip gloss. The show ramped up from there. Hence the dichotomy of Duran Duran: pop bubble-gummers to mature, disillusioned romantics.
Some of the evening was the former. Safe singles such as “Planet Earth,” “Wild Boys,” and “Hungry Like the Wolf,” and the encore number “Rio” catapulted the crowd back to their teen years. What shook them back into 21st century reality was a more cultivated Duran Duran, with increasingly cerebral, gloomy recent offerings such as “Blame the Machines” and “The Man Who Stole a Leopard,” with the stage dripping with heavy strobes and four eerie drama facemasks over the stage.
D2’s Twitter feed scrolled behind the band once in a while. Requests and comments poured in like folded-up notes passed before homeroom. Rarely talking between songs, LeBon did take a moment to address Colorado, discussing what the band had been through in recent years. To say they’ve been through a lot was an understatement. Multiple band break-ups and multiple personal break downs (founding member Andy Taylor left the band in 2004), as well as legal issues, rehab stints, and even boating accidents, make Guns n’ Roses look like the Brady Bunch.
When LeBon introduced the titular single of their latest release, he wore his heart on his sleeve: “If anyone’s been following us for the past 30 years, you’ve noticed that we’ve been through some ups and downs. But none of that matters. All that matters is right here, right now.” These guys weren’t doing it for the money; they were doing because this is what they do. And, as a result, you get the carpe diem of All You Need Is Now.
“All You Need is Now” clearly stands as one of Duran Duran’s best songs (at least since “Union of the Snake” (which didn’t make the set list) or “A View to a Kill” (which did). And “Now” was certainly one of the evening’s highlights. The hacking industrial synth intro by Rhodes and the crunching drums by Roger Taylor seamlessly blend with LeBon’s melodious chorus. His chops on this particular track seem to time machine the band back to its roots: This easily could have been an offering from one of their first three albums. This song is why we love the song-writing duo of John Taylor and Simon LeBon.
Revival hits aside, “Come Undone” and “Ordinary World” in their days reminded the world that Duran Duran were still trying to be relevant—sober and subdued, but relevant. And the new-ageish “Girl Panic” (yes, the band is still writing about “girls,” apparently having not yet graduated to “women”) proved that LeBon simply doffing his jacket was enough to send the twitters aflutter and incised the requisite crowd cat calls of “Simon!!! Simon!!!” from the screaming middle-aged housewives.
And while D2 sauntered a very safe set list, rarely stepping outside their own material save for a quick teaser of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” during the encore of “Wild Boys” (would it have been too much to throw in a Bowie cover or a even a Killers song? I mean, The Killers’ Brandon Flowers owes his entire career to Simon LeBon), Duran Duran flashed and flaunted their timeless appeal.
Longevity in the music business is near impossible, with the pressure to follow the latest trend of country crossover duets or capitalize on a Broadway show showcasing a certain genre. Duran Duran, split personality aside, proves that, even into a fourth decade, it’s not impossible. | Brian Kenney

Photo: Soren McCarty

Photogallery from the show.
All photos by Soren McCarty

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