Duran Duran show a welcome return

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Duran Duran show a welcome return
Concert crowd happy to see original lineup of 1980s pop group
By Malcolm X Abram

The '80s are definitely back.

Besides the so-far triumphant return of Motley Crue, there are scores of young, hip alternative and indie bands mining the sounds and grooves of the '80s and Duran Duran, arguably the kings of early MTV and '80s pop, have returned to playing arenas.

On Tuesday night, the arena was the Wolstein Center at Cleveland State University, and Duran Duran, featuring the classic lineup that hasn't played together in more than a dozen years, performed a set filled with classic hits and the stronger tunes from their 2004 release Astronaut.

Dressed in variations on a black suit, white shirt and black tie, the quintet -- singer Simon LeBon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes and the unrelated trio of bassist John Taylor, drummer Roger Taylor and guitarist Andy Taylor -- plowed through nearly two hours of songs touching on all their major releases, including a few that didn't include the full band.

Opening with Sunrise, the catchy lead single from Astronaut, the band looked healthy and followed that blast from the present with a triple shot of nostalgia in Hungry Like The Wolf; their first single, Planet Earth; and Union of the Snake, from their commercial zenith, 1983's Seven and the Ragged Tiger. With little augmentation beyond a saxophone player and some backing vocals that didn't appear to emanate from anyone onstage, some of the early tunes were a bit leaner and meaner than their super-slick studio counterparts. Andy Taylor in particular seemed to have his distortion pedal cranked up to 10 ½ as he added rock muscle to Union and Careless Memories.

To the band's credit, when new songs were performed, few fans could be seen making the traditional new-song pilgrimage to the bathroom and/or bar and many even shimmied, shaked and pogoed to the dance rock song Nice. The crowd, made up mostly of people 25 or older, reveled in the nostalgia. A few fans showed their devotion by sporting vintage T-shirts, others shouted along to their favorites and women in their 30s and 40s flexed the shriek muscles they likely hadn't used since the group's first go-round.

The band never actually stopped, though it has survived a few crappy albums (1997's Medazzaland, anyone?) and the defections of everyone but LeBon and Rhodes. They might not be the lean, hungry pop stars they were in 1984, but pushing a new album has given them a focus they might not have had if they were just regurgitating the hits.

Opening band VHS or Beta also invoked the '80s with dance rock grooves, a mildly melodic singer and a brittle slashing guitar squall that sounded like U2 circa 1983 and Entertainment-era Gang of Four.

Courtesy the Beacon Journal