Duran Duran, Music Still Vibrant

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by JEFF MIERS, News Pop Music Critic

Duran Duran
Saturday night in Seneca Events Center, Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel, Niagara Falls.

It's remarkable how well the music of Duran Duran has aged. What, at the time the band emerged in the early '80s - and on through its commercial heyday late in that decade - seemed like a prefabricated bit of pop fluff now sounds like an astute comment on the new wave and "new romantic" scenes of the late '70s and early '80s.

Saturday night, inside a full Events Center at the Seneca Niagara Casino & Resort, four-fifths of the original band celebrated a legacy that now boasts more weight than one might've originally imagined.

Opening with its massive mid-'80s hit "Hungry Like the Wolf," the band managed to successfully maneuver the tightrope walk between blatant "nostalgia for cash" and an immersion in the deepening of a musical ensemble's body of work. Yes, the group played the hits we'd expect from it, but pleasantly lacking from the whole affair was the stench of "cash-in," that uncomfortable moment when you realize a once great band or artist is simply going through the motions in order to pay the mortgage.

Led by vocalist Simon Le Bon, still quite agile and in possession of a strong, vibrant and remarkably in-tune singing voice, the Duran boys plowed through a vibrant set of tunes from throughout their career. They also tossed in a few bits from side projects - a killer version of bassist John Taylor's and guitarist Andy Taylor's collaboration with singer Robert Palmer, the Power Station's hit "Some Like It Hot," was a high point - and generally looked, acted and sounded like the past 20-odd years never actually passed by.

The group recently lost original guitarist Andy Taylor, but it hasn't noticeably skipped a beat. Taylor's replacement did an excellent job of re-creating the original Duran guitarist's mix of funk, flash and then-fashionable metal-tinged licks.
Bassist John Taylor stole much of the show, from a musical standpoint. His bass playing was always interesting, a smart blend of disco, punk, pop and new wave that roots the best of Duran Duran's work. Taylor sounded wonderful working his way through the sexy "Union of the Snake," and added considerable bite to "The Reflex," a moving slab of white funk.

Keyboardist Nick Rhodes brought his idiosyncratic blend of sequenced lines, synthesizer washes and melodic bits to bear on the entire set, complementing the sparse, economical blending of bassist John Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor.

The crowd screamed the loudest for singer Le Bon, however. Of particular note was his ability to invest powerful Duran Duran ballads like "Save A Prayer" and "Ordinary World" with both consummate musicality and the rather foppish stylistic sense that the band was always known for.

Courtesy Buffalo News