Duran Duran mixes new and old tunes in Phoenix
By Larry Rodgers The Arizona Republic
Duran Duran masterfully mixed the new and the old to keep a Phoenix audience on its feet for its May 6 show at the Dodge Theatre.
No one is naive enough to think that Duran Duran can re-create the wild success of its '80s heyday, but the British band's two-hour set brought back memories to older fans and showed new listeners why this group has sold millions of albums.
Led by 49-year-old singer Simon LeBon, the group chose to open its show with three songs from its new Red Carpet Massacre album, co-produced by Timbaland, Nate "Danja" Hills and Justin Timberlake.
The crowd reacted positively to the new material, played by founding members LeBon, bassist John Taylor, drummer Roger Taylor and keyboardist Nick Rhodes. They were augmented in concert by a guitarist (replacing the recently departed Andy Taylor), a female singer and a saxophone player.
A new song, The Valley, opened the show, setting the tone with its modern rock. Next came the synthesizer-heavy title cut from Red Carpet Massacre, complete with an array of flashing lights mimicking the paparazzi that has followed Duran Duran over the years. A third new composition, the funky Nite-Runner, made it clear that Duran Duran would not be solely trafficking in its past.
The band then chose to hedge its bet, with the '80s mega-hit Hungry Like the Wolf and another classic, Planet Earth.
"We've traveled an amazing road the last two years," LeBon said, mentioning the departure of Andy Taylor and the band's collaboration with its new breed of producers.
LeBon, looking as dapper as ever in dark coat, white shirt and tie, said the new album was essentially finished but Timberlake told him that one more song was needed. Duran Duran then played Falling Down, a strong, bittersweet ballad co-written by Timberlake.
The band did a good job of mixing older hits (Come Undone, Save a Prayer, A View To a Kill) with newer tunes (Skin Divers, Tempted), but later in the set, the band's classic catalog won out.
The evening's main misstep featured a heavily reworked version of one of the band's most hummable hits, The Reflex.
An electronic set, complete with synthesized drums, spotlighted such classics as I Don't Want Your Love and Skin Trade.
As the band returned to its regular set-up, versions of the classic Notorious and Girls on Film had the crowd screaming.
An updated version of another massive '80s hit, Rio, with an extended saxophone solo, sent the audience home happy.
With dissension in its ranks and some creative disagreements with its record label, it is unclear what the core members of Duran Duran will do after this tour.
But for now, this icon of the 80s appears to be enjoying its time with its loyal fans.
Courtesy Arizona Republic