Duran Duran, at the Agganis Arena, Friday night.

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Duran Duran, at the Agganis Arena, Friday night
Sunday, April 3, 2005

First things first: the members of Duran Duran look great.

     And for a band whose image was as vital as its synthesizers, that's a good thing.

     Twenty-five years after the famous line-up came together in Birmingham, England, the original fab five have aged far better than some of their chart-busting '80s dance rock hits.

     To their credit, however, the 40-somethings - singer Simon LeBon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes and the dreamy rhythm section of bassist John Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor - christened the new Agganis Arena Friday night with an energetic and genial performance that proved what many Durannies have known for years: that the music is often as delightful as the packaging. (Guitarist Dominic Brown was subbing for Andy Taylor who was attending his father's funeral. The melancholy ``Ordinary World'' was poignantly dedicated to him.)

     LeBon especially has improved with age. His howl and whine have deepened and rounded out over the years. The lanky singer led the band - clearly jazzed to get the old gang back together plus a backing vocalist and saxophone player - through two hours of its jittery electro pop hits and newer tunes with cheeky sex appeal. While a few tunes felt a bit mechanical, mostly the blood pumped along with the disco beats.

     LeBon and John Taylor's shimmying to that beat elicited much delight in the sold-out house, which was heavily populated by women who loved the lads the first time around. This included two side stage pits stocked with ecstatic fans who danced from the first note.

     The band's gratitude that the audience was almost equally responsive to the new material as they were to familiar hits like ``Hungry Like the Wolf,'' ``Rio,'' ``The Reflex,'' ``Notorious,'' ``Wild Boys'' and the still elegant ``Save a Prayer'' was evident.

     There was, pleasantly, much to respond to in the throbbing optimism of opener ``(Reach Up For The) Sunrise,'' the slinky funk of ``Bedroom Toys'' and the Bowie-esque angularity of ``Astronaut,'' from the band's recent reunion album of the same name.

     Duran Duran may no longer be wild boys but they still have a shine.

Courtesy Boston Herald