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Duran Duran proves '80s are back

By Hector Saldana
San Antonio Express-News

In October 2000, the Los Angeles Times proclaimed that the '80s were back.

Its evidence? That gay nightclubs were starting to feature '80s nights, and that on those nights, dance floors were packed with people dancing to Duran Duran's "Girls on Film" — the sexy, groundbreaking dance-club hit and music video from back in the day.

Well, MTV's original Fab Five — Simon LeBon, John Taylor, Andy Taylor, Roger Taylor and Nick Rhodes — are back and on a tour that stops in Laurie Auditorium tonight before heading to Houston on Sunday for a Super Bowl tailgate party. And everybody's dancing.

They're older, a little less flamboyant but still able to send audiences into delirium with sounds that defined "The Breakfast Club" era: "The Reflex," "Rio," "Hungry Like the Wolf," "Wild Boys," "View to a Kill," "Notorious."

According to MTV, the reunion tour opener at a Atlantic City casino last November was "a reminder that Duran Duran's music was in fact, as vital to their iconic perception as their exotic and erotic music videos."

But c'mon, these guys were pretty, MTV-ready and metrosexual before its time. Rolling Stone calls them "the pretty boys of early '80s pop rock."

In 1981, Duran Duran offered a respite from post-punk rock drab. "John (Taylor) always said that we started the fusion between the Sex Pistols and Chic," LeBon told Rolling Stone last fall.

It's not a put-down to say it was all about the music videos — among the most innovative (and expensive) of their time and perhaps single-handedly responsible for delivering the death blow to the crummy fare that was Journey videos.

And if Cyndi Lauper's appearance here two years ago with Cher, and Dave Gahan's concert last summer (and with Depeche Mode a year before) are any indicators, tonight's show will be a lovefest that manages to transcend mere nostalgia.

LeBon told MTV News that early test shows pointed to a full-blown tour. "We knew (a reunion) was going to be good, but never in our wildest dreams did we think we were going to get the response and energy and love and affection that we got when we played those shows," LeBon said. "It was fantastic."

On the heels of a new DVD collection of its videos, the original Duran Duran is recording its first album in two decades, which may or may not include collaboration with new hitmakers. "We're not going to bring someone in just because they're Gwen Stefani or Fred Durst," Roger Taylor told MTV.

Rolling Stone reported earlier this month that the band will contribute a new song to the upcoming "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" soundtrack, titled "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy: What's That Sound." The song is called "Sunrise" and will be available Feb. 10.

San Antonio Express-News

Duran Duran was the quintessential right band at the right time — good looks, perfect hair, catchy tunes and a fledgling music-television network eager to showcase them. Some key videos include:

'Girls on Film': Godley and Creme's bizarre, tantalizing 1981 music video created buzz on the airwaves and nightclub dance floors (especially in its longer uncensored form) with its images of sumo wrestlers, runway models and insinuations of kinky sex, pillow fights and whipped cream.

'Hungry Like the Wolf': Director Russell Mulcahy tapped into the pop culture psyche in 1982 with 'Hungry's' exotic, open-marketplace scenes and 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' imagery.

'Rio': Again, Mulcahy draws from the exotic, but goes tropical with the Fab Five dressed to the nines in sunny, breezy scenes aboard a luxurious yacht. It was definitely good to be Duran Duran in late 1982.

'Union of the Snake': Director Simon Milne strands the pretty boys in the desert in 1983 but never lets viewers know exactly where the shapely bellhop came from.

'Wild Boys': Strange robotics, dungeonlike warehouse scenes, scantily dressed, firebreathing male dancers, torture windmills and dust storm school desk scenes complete Mulcahy's jumbled 'Terminator'/'Mad Max' vision in 1984.

'The Reflex': In 1984, Mulcahy's video helped propel 'The Reflex' to become Duran Duran's first No. 1 hit and featured mostly live concert shots bolstered with the occasional S&M snippet.

'Electric Barbarella': Sexy computerized mannequin comes to life in her panties and bra to kiss the stylish boys in the band in director Ellen von Unwerth's second Duran Duran video circa 1997. What to do but make her into your personal maid?