Austin 360 Review

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Duran Duran, Iron & wine, 'The Assumption.' John C. Riley as Dewey Cox, The Knitters and the Hacienda Brothers, Rachel Loy and Brian Keane
Thursday, December 13, 2007

Duran Duran

Despite a $45 ticket price, the English dance/pop band Duran Duran had the newly renovated Austin Music Hall filled to capacity for their Tuesday show (many in the crowd seemed to be the same ecstatic souls who were once the band's screaming teen fanbase some 25 years ago).

Duran Duran — vocalist Simon Le Bon, bassist John Taylor, drummer Roger Taylor and keyboardist Nick Rhodes — have managed the near impossible by creating a graceful third act in their pop music career within a genre where most bands are one-hit-wonders. Touring behind their 12th album, "Red Carpet Massacre," released last month, the "fab five" — now minus original guitarist Andy Taylor — are receiving heavy rotation on Mix 94.7 and have sold more than 80 million records in their 29-year history.

The band played six new songs from "Red Carpet Massacre," including "Nite Runner" and "Falling Down," which are collaborations with Timbaland and fellow boy band alum Justin Timberlake. Maintaining the band's penchant for contemporizing blue-eyed soul while mixing it with pop/rock staples, the new tracks possessed a danceable hotness and were better than any of their fans (and haters) would have expected.

John Taylor proved he is easily one of the funkiest bass players in pop music as he slapped and popped polyrhythmic bass grooves as smooth as if he were buttering bread; he appeared to have the most fun of all the band members.

Rhodes has added the now requisite Mac PowerBook to his five-keyboard-strong soundscapes while Roger Taylor still had the rhythmic capacity to play 32nd notes on the high hat while locking into a click-track and assorted pre-recorded samples.

The 30- and 40-something based audience ignited during the last half of the set when the band started cranking out the hits from the 1980s: "Rio," "The Reflex," "Save A Prayer" and the encore "Girls on Film." The audience was noticeably disappointed that the band did not play "Hungry Like The Wolf," one of the biggest hits of their career.

Tuesday evening's concert showed that Duran Duran's staying power can be attributed to the fact that underneath their chic fashion style and pretty-boy charisma, they've always been talented musicians with a keen sense for expressing drama and romance within the perfect three-and-a-half minute pop song.

— V.M. Black