Music Review: Duran Duran is pretty well intact

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Music Review: Duran Duran is pretty well intact
Thursday, August 04, 2005

By John Artale

Opening with the added metaphor of a real train on cue, the Duran Duran reunion tour made its way to Pittsburgh Tuesday night, and it did not disappoint. Reunion tours are dicey propositions at best, especially when a band finds itself having to face the double-edged scalpel of musical chops and pop-star looks.

Putting their money where their faces are John Taylor and Simon LeBon stayed front and center for most of the show. Bassist Taylor was in fine form and played that way, too, embellishing some songs with a nice rhythm and blues feel. LeBon, while in good voice, pursed his lips like Owen Wilson in close-up and had to fight a cruel video monitor that was trying to morph him into Merv Griffin. Still, the fab five had it down on stage and projected a palpable excitement to be playing together, which the audience reciprocated.

They opened with a surprising choice of "Friends of Mine," one of five songs played from their first album. Two songs in and "Hungry Like the Wolf" was a highlight, getting a suitable response from a mixed audience with a traditional dose of ladies'-night abandon up front.

The new songs showed a lot more punch live than on record, and they fit in the setlist nicely, with "Chains" standing out. Faring better were proven hits such as "Is There Something I Should Know," its Beatlesque harmonies intact. "A View to a Kill" brought some needed double naught excitement to a lagging section of the set. Their surprise hit "Ordinary World," dedicated to the victims of the London bombings, sounded beautifully atmospheric and gave keyboardist Nick Rhodes a chance to shine.

"Notorious" had its great groove and a fitting interpolation of Sly Stone's "I Want to Take You Higher" and gave guitarist Andy Taylor, who spent most of the show recessed on stage left, his opportunity to move up.

The William Burroughs-inspired "Wild Boys" made for an excellent set closer. That spatial tribal percussion beat married to its angular guitar makes a great launching pad for onstage kinetics. They made fine use of it, defying a decent amount of gravity for those in their 40s.

They encored with the chugging flashbulb guitar sound of "Girls on Film," which was dedicated to Andy Warhol. They ended with "Rio," a song whose video caused their defining moment and made pastel suits safe for straight men.

Opening act Dragonette was a slight but charming embodiment of an '80s summer night and played lilting synth pop fronted by new-wave girlish vocals.

Courtesy Pittsburgh Post Gazette