Hungry wolf fed, happy

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Hungry wolf fed, happy
Duran Duran fan gets dream of seeing band live

My name is Katie and I am a Duran Duran-aholic, or as they say in fan circles, a “Duranie.”
My nearly 20-year craving got a boost Saturday night when the original Duran Duran lineup – lead singer Simon Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, drummer Roger Taylor, bassist John Taylor and guitarist Andy Taylor – played at the Spokane Opera House. While some people may not place the band among the upper ranks of the music industry, it has been making music since 1978 – albeit in various incarnations – and surely it should get some points for longevity.

One must also admit Duran Duran has recorded its share of legendary songs. “Girls on Film,” “Rio” and “Hungry Like the Wolf” rank among the best singles ever for their imaginative combination of synthesizers and traditional instruments, lyrical choices and straight-up danceability. While they’re making new music and touring in support of their latest release, “Astronaut,” their earlier influence is heard on current albums by Franz Ferdinand and The Killers.

I grew up listening to Duran Duran as a child because my parents couldn’t think of a better baby-sitter than MTV, and I thank them for it. Otherwise, I’d have missed out on awesome songs such as “Save a Prayer,” which one Seattle radio station DJ referred to last summer as the “most perverse slow song ever made.” That commentary’s a little odd, but it fits with the aura of Duran Duran. Who else would name a band after the villain in the 1968 film “Barbarella”?

Seeing Duran Duran in person made me realize how cohesive the band really is, particularly as the original lineup.

Le Bon, who carried the band with Rhodes and guitarist Warren Cuccurullo after the Taylors – none of whom are related – left, is bouncier and more energetic. Cuccurullo exited the band in 2001 after 12 years of full-time membership to reunite his former band, Missing Persons, but all three Taylors have returned to the Duran nest. While they may not have bopped or sashayed across the stage with the same fervor as Le Bon – Roger’s behind a drumset, so he’s exempt – they were clearly excited to be back, doing silly jumps and smiling at one another. And Rhodes happily plinked away on his keyboards, churning out the synthesized blips and riffs that helped elevate their singles to pop classic status. Backup singer Anna Ross and saxophonist Andy Hamilton, who played the “Rio” solo on the original recording, complemented the band nicely.

Staples such as 1993’s top 10 hits “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone,” and lesser-known tunes such as instrumental “Tiger Tiger” and “The Chauffeur,” off 1982’s “Rio” album, appeared on the setlist. While “The Reflex” and “A View to a Kill,” the band’s only No. 1 U.S. Billboard hits, were both missing, trading those for album gems “Careless Memories” and “Hold Back the Rain” proved to be a great choice that especially appealed to fans who memorized every lyric to every song from every album Duran Duran ever made.

And yes, I am one of those people.

I can tell you the first two songs they did were “(Reach Up for the) Sunrise” and “Hungry Like the Wolf,” but after that, the order of the setlist becomes a blur. Halfway through “Hungry Like the Wolf,” it began to sink in that I was seeing Duran Duran live.

Just 10 rows separated us, and John Taylor, my first celebrity crush, stood a mere distance away, thumping and slapping on his bass. Not to mention that I was caught in a 30-to-40-person pileup after the show as the band ran for its ride to the airport. But I managed to get a clear picture of Le Bon on my last shot of film – my greatest achievement.

The show was truly impressive in its design with searing, multi-colored strobe lights and a space-age set. During “Careless Memories,” the jumbo screen showed the band in manga form destroying EMI – the band’s record label from 1980 to 1998, but the acronym in the manga stood for Endangered Music Industry.

The cheers from the crowd symbolized the triumph over the critics who said for years that Duran Duran wouldn’t survive. A quarter-century later, the band’s relevance is quickly being recognized by many of those non-believers, and it will be up for the consideration of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame panel for the 2007 induction ceremony.

In the Eighties, Le Bon said his band would be the one to dance to when the bomb dropped.

The Cold War is over, but it’s still cool to have a blast to Duran Duran’s music.

Courtesy Katie Rosenthal, The Daily Evergreen