Duran Duran's '80s hits still fresh

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Duran Duran's '80s hits still fresh

"Wild men never lose it . . . wild men always shine."

It doesn't have quite the same ring, but Duran Duran, the "Wild Boys" now well into their 40s, made a triumphant if incomplete return to Milwaukee before a sold-out crowd at the Riverside Theatre Saturday night.

Although the show was on track to be the original line-up's first appearance in town since 1982, guitarist Andy Taylor left the tour and returned to England earlier in the week to be with his seriously ill father. Dominic Brown, who filled in for Taylor on a few dates in 2004, performed solidly but unremarkably.

A side note: back in eighth grade, when my friends and I debated which member of Duran Duran each of us would get to marry one day, poor Andy was always the groomsman, never the groom, and we spent most of our time fighting over bassist John Taylor.

The blissfully indifferent reaction from the crowd Saturday when singer Simon Le Bon explained Andy's absence suggested we weren't the only silly girls who viewed Andy as largely superfluous, despite his considerable contributions to the act as a musician.

As for John Taylor's continued charisma, well, the woman near the front row wearing a shirt that declared "I Worship The Bass God" and holding a matching sign seemed to speak for many in the mostly thirtysomething, largely female crowd.

The four original members present and accounted for did look unnervingly good for middle age. Le Bon, athletic and light on his feet throughout the 22-song set, hit all the high notes with ease. Drummer Roger Taylor was intense as ever, bassist John Taylor (none of the Taylors are related) was still supermodel-sleek and funky-fresh, and keyboardist Nick Rhodes, always the most fabulous member, wore his eyeliner and perfectly pouting lipstick with panache.

What was most surprising throughout the evening was not how well the '80s pop-rock icons have stood the test of time - it's how good, and how timeless, the music still sounded.

While fellow '80s survivors Motley Crue put on an energetic show earlier this month at the U.S. Cellular Arena, the glam metal quartet's sound, for material new and old, was firmly rooted in an era when acid wash jeans were fashionable. Not so with Duran Duran, however. Many of the evening's songs, notably a haunting rendition of "Come Undone" and a rowdy "Notorious," seemed like contemporaries of currently fashionable acts such as Interpol, The Killers and even the bouncier material produced by The Neptunes.

The two-hour set had its leaden moments. Some of the material off 2004's "Astronaut," for example, notably "Nice" and the title track, felt like generic filler, and a rendition of the Bond theme "A View To A Kill" plodded rather than pranced.

But overwhelmingly, the band delivered an intoxicating mix of danceable fun.

Most of the new songs, including set opener "(Reach Up for the) Sunrise" and the coyly funky "Bedroom Toys," fit seamlessly with the '80s hits that made up the bulk of the evening, including "Hungry Like the Wolf," "Planet Earth," "The Reflex" and encores "Girls on Film" and "Rio."

Courtesy Milwaukee Journal Sentinel