Duran Duran Return to Rave Reviews

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Playing their first US shows together in 18 years, the original lineup of Duran Duran- Simon LeBon (vocalist), Andy Taylor (guitars), John Taylor (bass), Roger Taylor (drums) and Nick Rhodes (keyboards)- left crowds of fans, critics and Hollywood luminaries breathless this week.

The band played sold out shows at LA's Roxy presented by DKNY//JEANS and The Fader Magazine on July 15th and Orange County's Pacific Amphitheatre (capacity: 8,000) on
July 16th.

Here's a link to the Orange County Register's feature on the band: http://epaper.ocregister.com/repository/getFiles.asp?Style=OliveXLib:LowLeve

Here's how critics described the scene at the band's triumphant return:

?Duran Duran... caused pandemonium on the Sunset Strip. Fans mobbed the tiny Roxy...?-Steven Baltin, Rolling Stone.com, 7/16/03

?Judging from the reaction inside the packed club these Duran's devotees...definitely felt they got their money's worth... The entire crowd was a seething, screaming, sweaty mass."-Lyndsey Parker, Launch.com, 7/16/03

The Roxy show was the hottest ticket in LA on Monday, with the following celebrities in attendance: Nick Cage; Gavin Rossdale; Gwen Stefani and the other members of No Doubt; Christina Applegate; Beck; Mark McGrath - Sugar
Ray; Steve Jones - Sex Pistols; Donovan Leitch; Kirsty Hume; Michael des Barres; Joy Bryant; Junior Gonzalez of the San Diego Chargers.

The Duran Duran excitment continues in Las Vegas with two concerts at The Joint at the Hard Rock Cafe & Casino, of which the Saturday night show which sold out in just six minutes when tickets went on sale. According to promoter Andy Hewitt, the concert was one of the fastest selling shows ever at The Joint. The UK magazine the FACE were there and shot some photos backstage.

And check out this amazing review on Billboard.com:

"Duran Duran / July 15, 2003 / West Hollywood, Calif. (Roxy)

Don't call it a comeback. Call it a long-overdue triumph.

When the five original members of Duran Duran played the Roxy in West Hollywood, Calif., Tuesday (July 15), it was a momentous occasion for fans: It was the first time the band's original lineup had played a live show in the U.S. since 1985. It was a rare nightclub performance and a revisiting of the band's history, as the Roxy was where Duran Duran played its first U.S. show in 1981.

Most importantly, the show delivered on the hope the band could return to top form after all these years. Tickets went on sale the day before the show and sold out quickly. Indeed, early signs are pointing to great success for the tour, which kicked off earlier this month in Japan.

At the Roxy, Duran Duran wisely played many of its biggest hits, yet bravely took a chance with an unpredictable choice for its opening number: "Friends of Mine," a track from the band's eponymous debut album. Although the foreboding and intense song is unfamiliar to most, there were plenty of die-hard fans in the audience who sang along with lead vocalist Simon LeBon.

Things began to heat up when the band launched into "Hungry Like the Wolf," followed by "Planet Earth." The latter was especially potent, with its mostly faithful recreation of the infectious snyth-heavy dance hook.

The undeniable chemistry of the original lineup remains intact. LeBon is still a confident and energetic showman. Keyboard/synth player Nick Rhodes' underrated skills bring a unique personality to each song. Bass player John Taylor refuses to subscribe to the notion that bass guitarists must have a stone-cold demeanor on stage, and he is at his best when he gets a funky groove going. Drummer Roger Taylor delivers the dependable back beat that helped Duran Duran straddle the lines between rock and dance music. And guitarist Andy Taylor, the rock'n'roll rebel of the group, can still whip out fiery solos and riffs.

Teenybopper hysteria threatened to drown out the original lineup's talents on its last tour in 1984. Nearly 20 years later, the group has matured gracefully, its songs having more than stood the test of time.

LeBon brought a sensual performance to "Come Undone," even touching the tip of his tongue to the roars of approval from the audience. On "Night Boat," the band invoked tribal intensity that had the crowd jumping in time with the music. But as if to make a self-effacing indication that he does not take his role as a rock star too seriously, LeBon ended the song with a campy bored expression and a feigned yawn.

The band also performed two new songs. The mid-tempo "What Happens Tomorrow," features chorus lyrics such as "If you're lonely, I'll try to protect you...You've got to believe it'll be all right in the end." As LeBon explained while introducing the song, it evokes the mood of what to say to a child going to sleep.

"Virus," a much stronger song that drew an immediate positive reaction, should appeal to fans of Duran Duran's harder rocking side matched with stellar pop sensibilities. The staccato-like guitar riffs and slightly paranoid lyrics make this one of the edgiest Duran Duran songs in years. If the group is considering a song to release as a reunion single, "Virus" should be a strong contender.

By the time the band played "Notorious," "Wild Boys" and "Careless Memories" things reached a fever pitch, with LeBon and John Taylor jumping in unison on "Wild Boys." "Notorious" featured a different arrangement from the hit single version, with extended interludes that prominently featured Andy Taylor's lead guitar and Rhodes' keyboards.

At 75 minutes, the set skimped on songs from Duran Duran's 1983 album "Seven and the Ragged Tiger," which yielded the hit songs "The Reflex," "New Moon on Monday" and "Union of the Snake." Also absent was the fan favorite "Save a Prayer" from the 1982's "Rio." The band also skipped "A View to a Kill," the first and only James Bond movie theme song to hit No. 1 on The Billboard Hot 100.

But Duran Duran satisfied the crowd by playing only hits for the encore: "Girls on Film," during which LeBon cheekily struck a momentary catwalk-model pose, and "Rio," which included a well-received, outstanding solo from guest saxophonist Mindi Abair.

After the show, LeBon told Billboard.com that the band's original lineup is doing something it has never really done before. "We're producing the album mostly by ourselves," he said of the set, which the band is in process of completing. No label is yet attached to the project, which should be out next year.

With or without a record deal, the reunited band still has the charisma and great musical chops that helped it become one of the biggest bands of the 1980s. Rather than being stuck in the past, the current live act indicates that the original Duran Duran is ready to make its mark in the present and be an important part of the musical future."