Duran lifts audience with old, new hits

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Duran lifts audience with old, new hits
The English rock group shows off steak and sizzle at Turning Stone.
Thursday, March 31, 2005
By Mark Bialczak

Verona - It's still hard work being Duran Duran.

With a sweaty performance that left many in the loving crowd of 3,500 or so breathless, singer Simon LeBon, guitarist Andy Taylor, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, bassist John Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor proved they still have the pizzazz that lifted them from Birmingham, England, to world fame starting 22 years ago.

It's not easy still sounding that good, and it's certainly not easy still looking that good. But by the way the women gathered in the special sections - two areas stage left and right where maybe 100 lucky souls got to watch the show up close and very personal - held up signs and danced, Duran Duran still had the appearance portion of their fame knocked.

The guyson stage, meanwhile, did their part by donning dark jackets and striking devilish poses. Soon enough, LeBon and Roger Taylor were down to their shirts. The better for the women to scream about. Duran Duran, after all, was always halfway about the sizzle.

And on this tour, the appetizers included a five-panel screen that stretched across the entire width of the stage, four red disco balls and enough strobes to fill a dance club big enough to fit 5,000.

The "steak" was great, too. Musically, Duran Duran has engineered a comeback just right for 2005.

They showed that from the start. The first song was a red-hot rendition of the first single from their new album, "Astronaut." "(Reach Up for the) Sunrise" was every bit as full with catchy pop melody and punchy English rock as the hits of 20 years ago.

LeBon and mates broke quickly into their first hit, 1983's "Hungry Like the Wolf."

After that, fans lapped up the old and the new with equal amounts of enthusiasm, dancing as energetically to "Chains" from the new one as to "Union of the Snake" from the old days.

LeBon had his fun proving that the band can meld 1980s mentality with 2005 maturity.

"What planetis this anyway? Planet Casino?" he asked before they played "Planet Earth." "What's this about? It's about the finest drugs money can buy. Rock stars!" he exclaimed before they launched into "Astronaut." Fans seemed to appreciate the slow songs as much as the fast ones.

"Ordinary World" took on a special meaning after LeBon said he wrote the song in 1992 to salve his wounds after a close friend of his died "in a really stupid accident."

"You know what to do. Take a cigarette lighter. Shine light on us or use your cell phone," LeBon said before the beautiful "Save a Prayer." There were far more lighters aloft than cell phones, proving again that this was a bunch of fans who first fell in love with Duran Duran 20 years ago. They danced to Duran Duran before cell phones were born.

And now they happily sang along to "Notorious," "Girls on Film" and "Rio" again.

Courtesy The Post-Standard