Duran Duran hasn't lost its touch
With: VHS or Beta
By Jeffrey Lee Puckett
A current of nostalgia-powered electricity pulsed through the sold-out Louisville Palace Sunday night as showtime for Duran Duran neared. It was the kind of energy you don't often feel at a rock show, occurring only on those rare occasions when favorite memories are on a collision course with imminent reality.
The danger, of course, is that reality will run roughshod over memory.
Not Sunday, however. Duran Duran performed with the sequined pop-star flair for which they're famous, hammering out their glamorous Top 40 funk with vigor. The band is clearly committed to its ongoing reunion, and its fans clearly feel the same.
The hits were all there, from the New Romantic sweep of "Hungry Like the Wolf" and "Rio" to the spare grooves of "Notorious" (the night's best performance) and "Reflex." The latter two songs, plus the new "Bedroom Toys," gave the show's second half a funk-fueled momentum that climaxed with the encore of "Girls On Film" and "Rio."
And yes, they looked good, although a beefier Simon LeBon is more likely hanging out with plus-size rather than runway models. Guitarist Andy Taylor missed the show due to a family illness, but the rest of the band seemed relaxed and happy. They even sang "Happy Birthday" to a fan, which didn't happen a lot in 1983.
Louisville's VHS or Beta opened with a set that, theoretically, should have been perfect. No other band assimilates 1980s pop music better than VHS or Beta, nor understands how to filter it through modern club music to make a new kind of dance-floor anthem.
But it isn't all about the beat for VHS or Beta, and a boomy sound mix compromised the set by putting too much emphasis on the bottom end. The band's guitar hooks were nearly drowned out, as were some of the vocals. Somehow, though, it was still the perfect warm-up for a decidedly cool show.