Double the Pleasure

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FROM its double-plus-good name to its 10-minute-plus finale of "Rio," Duran Duran has always excelled at excess.

At the group's over-the-top Madison Square Garden gig Wednesday — where lighting rigs bounced to the beat, smoke billowed, mirrored balls twirled and anime caricatures of the quintet killed demons with their instruments — too much wasn't enough for fans or band.

The '80s synth-pop heartthrobs were effervescent because that's their nature and it was the last night of their 2005 world tour. And they were finally back in New York, playing the Garden.

After the first three songs shook the rust from his pipes, Simon LeBon acknowledged just how much the crowd's roaring welcome jazzed him. Wearing an '80s-style black suit, he stood at the lip of the stage and took in the moment.

With emotion and vindication in his voice, he told the sold-out house, "It's been 21 years since we last stood in this place. We knew we'd get back here."

LeBon and company still have the looks to make the predominantly female crowd squeal. Their sound was in fine form, too.

Duran Duran's three-part harmonies — featuring LeBon, guitarist Andy Taylor and bassist John Taylor, supported by Nick Rhodes on keyboards and Roger Taylor on drums — were right on, all through the night.

Duran Duran's return to the Garden stage is an unlikely success story.

After multi-platinum, Grammy-winning triumphs in the early '80s and a coronation by Rolling Stone as the Fab Five, the band was in tatters by '86.

Seventeen years later, as New Wave synth sounds started creeping back into mainstream pop, they reunited for fun and profit, playing small club and theater gigs.

That was then. In the two years since reuniting, the group has made a convincing comeback, fueled by the new record, "Astronaut."

In concert, you'd expect oldies like "Hungry Like a Wolf" to satisfy fans, but at the Garden, there was equal strength in such new tunes as "(Reach Up for the) Sunrise" and "What Happens Tomorrow."

Both of those songs — "Sunrise" breaking first, "Tomorrow" played late in the set — have a bright, optimistic appeal and make an air-tight case that Duran Duran has re-established itself with contemporary relevance.

Of Duran Duran's classics, "Save a Prayer" was tops. A power ballad that once prompted legions to flick their Bics, "Prayer" still works, only now folks whip out glowing cellphones.

No-no-no "Notorious" was also a highlight, as devotees stuttered along with LeBon.

The ultra-extended take on "Rio," probably the band's fluffiest number, sent the crowd home happily riding a wave of '80s nostalgia.

Courtesy The New York Post