Duran Duran Show They Haven't Come Undone

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Duran Duran Show They Haven't Come Undone

By JOHN W. ALLMAN jallman@tampatrib.com
Published: Feb 13, 2005

TAMPA - The hair. The hooks. The hunger of a rabid fan base cresting a wave of nostalgia, and clamoring for another trip to Rio.

Suddenly, 2005 feels a lot like 1982.

Duran Duran, the rock video pioneers with poster-boy looks, arrived in Tampa with a purpose Saturday night: To proclaim their relevance by mixing two decades worth of hits with songs from their new album, 2004's ``Astronaut,'' the first disc in 20 years to feature all five original members.

The 5,930 screaming fans were mostly older new wave romantics who acted as though the band never left the Top 40 radar. Then again, most teens today might not know Patrick Nagel (the artist responsible for the band's 1982 ``Rio'' album cover art) from Nepal.

The Birmingham, England, quintet have aged well. Simon LeBon, Nick Rhodes and the Taylors - John, Roger and Andy, none of them related - survived the dismal decade known as the 1990s with their sense of style intact. They took the stage at the St. Pete Times Forum with signature flair, all dressed in suits.

LeBon strutted and gyrated as the band opened with ``(Reach Up for the) Sunrise,'' the first single from its new album. They immediately followed with ``Hungry Like the Wolf,'' which sent the crowd into a dancing frenzy.

Surprisingly, it was the band's material from the 1990s, ``Come Undone'' and ``Ordinary World,'' that seemed sluggish and uninspired.

Duran Duran is a cornerstone of pop culture history.

Named after a character from the campy Jane Fonda cult classic ``Barbarella,'' the band has never forsaken its kitsch appeal, even as its music has matured.

To watch these aging 40- some- things sing about the ``Union of the Snake'' and ``The Reflex,'' should have been more embarrassing than it proved. They pulled it off with aplomb.

Duran Duran's influence among synth-pop and new wave bands is deserved.

They ushered in a new era in music, incorporating intricately staged videos - often racy and risque, filled with scantily- clad women almost as attractive as the band - that were as much about telling a story as promoting the song.

It was only during a lean, menacing version of ``The Chauffeur'' that the group used its signature video style to great effect Saturday night.

This was more than the requisite money-making reunion, and Duran Duran seemed determined to let the music stand on its own. The results were mixed, but one has to give them credit.

Many other bands would have been content to coast on an impressively long list of hits.

Duran Duran clearly believes it will be back.

Clear Static, a group of former California high schoolers who won a 2001 Teen People Magazine band contest, opened with a catchy set of retro-new wave pop.

Courtesy Tampa Tribune