Duran Duran's fans still hungry for electric pop

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Duran Duran's fans still hungry for electric pop

By Tina Potterf

Special to The Seattle Times

In the 1980s, you could scarcely turn on MTV or a radio without coming across the stylish and sexy electric-pop of Duran Duran.

In that decade of decadence, in which shoulder pads, skinny ties and synth-pop rock ruled, the devilishly handsome and rakish group from Birmingham, England — featuring Simon Le Bon, John Taylor, Nick Rhodes, Andy Taylor and Roger Taylor — was refreshingly sophisticated.

As other artists experimented with the then-new art form of music videos in the early days of MTV, often rendering home-video-quality productions, Duran Duran employed stunning models and exotic locations as backdrops to songs such as "Rio" and "Hungry Like the Wolf."

The band tested the boundaries of the medium with a controversial video for "Girls on Film," a steamy dance track from Duran Duran's 1981 debut recording. (The video was subsequently banned from MTV.)

The '80s were especially kind to Duran Duran, as the group cemented its place in the annals of pop music with a string of hits, including the sensual "Hungry Like the Wolf," the sly, sultry "Is There Something I Should Know?" and the romantic "Save a Prayer."

But in 1985, the original configuration of Duran Duran played together for the last time at a Live Aid concert. Shortly after that performance, guitarist Andy Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor left the band; singer Le Bon, keyboardist Rhodes and bass player John Taylor continued. The retooled group released several more albums from the late 1980s through the mid-'90s and had hits with "Come Undone" and "Ordinary World."

Nearly 20 years later, the original lineup of Duran Duran is back and embarking on a tour of North America in support of its latest studio release, "Astronaut." The "fab five" will perform their greatest hits and more when the tour stops at the Everett Events Center next Wednesday.

Duran Duran played a string of sold-out shows to audiences in the United States in 2003 to commemorate its 25th anniversary, but the current road trip is the largest undertaking by the band in years, a point not lost on John Taylor.
"This tour is a big one for us, and we don't know if we are going to make it," Taylor joked during a recent phone interview from his Los Angeles home.

Though the band members went in different directions for a period, when they met up to play some club shows in 2002 and to record "Astronaut" in 2003, the chemistry was there.

"We all got together ... and started blow-drying our hair again," Taylor said.

The fans were as enthralled as ever.

"I didn't realize the depth of the fan affection," Taylor said. "It's been extraordinary and ... very exciting. We have had an audience since we were 20, so that makes you secure in trying new things."

Taylor thanked fans for sticking with Duran Duran through lineup changes and a changing musical landscape.

"It would take a book for people to understand the process," he said. "It hasn't been easy. It's been tough from an emotional and psychological point of view. You have five guys in their 40s that have a lot of baggage they didn't have in their 20s."

For the recording of "Astronaut," the band moved into a rental house in France and spent days playing music and recording the output.

"It was this musical summit meeting," Taylor said. "The album came together quite quickly. Everybody came in with the same musical agenda."

Duran Duran in concert

When: 8 p.m. next Wednesday.

Where: Everett Events Center, 2000 Hewitt Ave.

Tickets: $37-$77; available at the events-center box office, 866-322-8499 and www.everetteventscenter.com.

Courtesy Seattle Times