Witness Duran Duran rebirth live

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Witness Duran Duran rebirth live
Formed in 1978 and later given up for dead, band's stock rises again

Tom Harrison

The Province

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Through it all, there has been Nick Rhodes. From 1981 to 1984 when Duran Duran was on the top, through the 1990s when Duran Duran was on the bottom.

Through side projects such as Arcadia. Through Duran Duran's rebirth, which sees them at GM Place's theatre bowl tomorrow night.

Before Simon Le Bon, before Roger Taylor, before Andy Taylor. Nick Rhodes was there before there was a Duran Duran and he'll probably be around to clean up . . . or to hire somebody to clean up.

The point is, where Duran Duran is concerned he's seen it all.

Damn it, though, we're talking to bassist John Taylor.

Good enough. It was John and Nick who formed the band in Birmingham in 1978. It was John and Nick who named the band after a character in the comic strip/movie Barbarella.

It was John who was the last of the unrelated Taylors to leave -- in 1994, he recalls -- and first to come back, with an additional perspective on the band.

"I stopped being a believer," he says, looking back on the decision. With members of Chic, Robert Palmer and Andy Taylor, he'd formed Power Station and eventually he tried acting.

"Being away from it allowed me to reassess. I did need some time away . . . and I had no idea it would lead me back.

"When I left in '94, or something like that, I thought, I can't work with these guys. I needed some time away. I needed to make a break."

The seeds for the Taylors to rejoin Nick and Simon were sown in 2000. The band was given an award for its "outstanding contribution to music" at the Brit Awards and a reappraisal was underway.

The reconstituted Duran Duran recorded Astronaut, dense in places where the original band might have been (too) light, with more of an ensemble sound than something more stylized.

The current live set has plenty of hits from "Rio" to "Girls on Film" but it also has at least four of the 12 tracks from the new LP.

"I've always found live work easier," the bassist says. "I've always been that way. Nick is the opposite. I would have gone on the road with what we had but Nick wanted to have something more. He was right. It's great to able to have both.

"We all had the same agenda. We all made an album that honoured what Duran Duran was about, but at the same time was contemporary."

These days the band is ruled democratically.

"I think that's exactly what it is," Taylor says. "It's more firmly in its place than it's ever been. Even if there is one change in the set it has to be okayed by everyone. We lost sight of that, which is why, I think, we broke up originally."

In the early to mid-'80s, few bands were bigger than Duran Duran. It exemplified rock glamour. It emphasized style in its art and fashion. Videos stressed image. For many people, Duran Duran were the definition of an era. Yet it got to be too much. One by one, the Taylors quit, the hits, barring "Ordinary World," stopped coming and Duran Duran kept afloat with a changing lineup despite its falling stock.

"I was happy to leave it at that," Taylor says of what he thought would be a clean break. "It had been my life since I was 18. So I was happy to leave it to try something else. I've done a bit of acting, which I couldn't have done without the band being successful. "

Duran Duran has been rediscovered by fans of '80s pop and embraced by a young audience, also discovering '80s pop. At one time dismissed as "the pre-fab five," Duran Duran has sold 70 million albums and seen its stock rise again.

"It's unusual," says Taylor. "It's unique, what is happening. We took a huge amount of time away from each other, but we're all quite ambitious, we're all driven.

"I just wanted to play, from the age of 17. That's all I wanted to do, whether it was in my mate's room or at the local pub.

"It takes tremendous tenacity," he concludes. "When you think about what those guys have gone through.

"Yet I know, for me in my life, music is the most powerful thing."

Courtesy The Vancouver Province