Toronto Review

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Kool Haus, Toronto
Friday, November 14, 2003

TORONTO -- How many bands can simply stand shoulder-to-shoulder at the front of a stage and receive loud and sustained applause and cheers before their show has even begun?

Such was the case last night at Kool Haus as the five original members of '80s British pop act Duran Duran -- singer Simon Le Bon, 45, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, 41, bassist John Taylor, 43, guitarist Andy Taylor, 42, and drummer Roger Taylor, 43 -- stood unsmiling and without their instruments while flash bulbs went off and the crowd went wild.

The excitement was palpable given it's the first time in 18 years The Fab Five -- all still cute and incredibly stylish with four of them wearing blazers --have hit the road together in honour of the 25th anniversary of their formation as a group, not to mention a just released greatest hits video collection on DVD.

Next up, apparently, is a new studio album and amphitheatre tour next summer.

In the meantime, the group appear to be just as jazzed as their audience -- last night's show sold out in a mere 10 minutes -- about performing together again.

Despite the initial serious looks on their faces, the musicians quickly broke into smiles and were incredibly playful and interactive with each other during their hour-and-40-minute set.

Le Bon, in particular, was in great form, whether he was dramatically dancing around the stage, performing arm and hand gestures worthy of a Shakespearean actor or playfully slapping his backside a la Benny Hill.

He even mentioned he had just seen the Michael Moore documentary, Bowling For Columbine: "Canada comes off really well. As a bunch of people who are not scared and not crazy. If you hate someone you just tease them, not shoot them."

Not content to be just an '80s nostalgia act, Duran Duran even offered up two new songs, the mid-tempo What Happens Tomorrow, and the pretty pop of Beautiful Colours, presumably from their upcoming new studio disc.

But it was the huge older hits, without question, like Planet Earth, Hungry Like the Wolf, Is There Something I Should Know?, Save A Prayer, Notorious, Wild Boys, Girls On Film, The Reflex and Rio, that provoked the biggest reaction.

That and when resident heartthrob John Taylor -- no relation to either Andy or Roger -- was introduced by Le Bon.

However, for me, it was the sexier, slower and more mature dance songs like Come Undone and Ordinary World that held up the best.

Andy Taylor, with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, also proved to be a riveting guitarist on both tunes.

Duran Duran, who have sold 70 million albums worldwide, recently picked up lifetime achievement awards from both MTV and Q magazine.

Turns out they deserved the accolades. Surprisingly though, given their pioneering of the long form video, none were shown on a screen behind them during last night's concert.