Duran Duran proves to be the model for style over substance
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
When: Last night
Where: GM Place
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If ever there was an argument for style over substance in a band, Birmingham, England's Duran Duran would fit the bill.
The very New Romantic movement that the band sprang from generated so few enduring moments that it's all but forgotten.
But not Duran Duran.
Having written the lion's share of the New Romantic scene's hits,the group remains whereas the Spandau Ballets and Ultravoxes have long vanished. Even if the spotlight turned off on Simon Le Bon's model good looks and primped hair somewhere around 1986, the quintet did recreate itself as lite-funk adult dance rockers in the 1990s and looks to be back in action again with the well-received new CD Red Carpet Massacre.
The Timbaland and Danja-helmed disc is certainly the most relevant piece of music from the band since The Wedding Album and boasts some tunes that could rub epaulets with any other chart-topper that has Timbaland, Danja and Justin TImberlake's mitts on it.
While no one in the fairly respectably sized crowd last night cheered louder for "Falling Down" than they did "Planet Earth" and "Hungry Like the Wolf," the new single certainly holds its own with the old material. And, yes, besides sounding good -- they always could play their instruments -- the group looked fabulous. A little craggier, a tad filled out, but trés jet set. Even Nick Rhodes, who still has the same Andy Warhol/Vidal Sassoon wedgie-bob 'do that hasn't been seen around these parts since long before the Love Affair played its last dance tune.
The danciness in the band's repertoire certainly connected with the audience. While it wouldn't be wrong to assume that the house was swayed toward those who were around when the group ruled the U.K. and U.S. charts in the 1980s, it also included a large number of far younger fans. Waxing nostalgic for a hair-jelled and pointy-toed shoe decade that predated their births, they got their boogie on to the radio-ready "Skin Divers" and older hits such as "The Reflex" that spent 10 years in heavy rotation on MuchMusic. So did their parents and grandparents.
It's pretty clear that the members are happy to know someone still cares. Le Bon, drummer Roger Taylor and bassist John Taylor couldn't believe it when the house took over the lyrics to "Save a Prayer."
A welcome surprise was the second "act" where the band re-appeared all dressed in black in a line of keyboards and an electro-drum kit to perform Kraftwerk-like techno versions of hits such as "All She Wants Is."
After this interlude came "Act Three." The final round kicked off with the funky "Notorious" and the hits kept coming.
Hmmm, a band able to mess around with old material without marring it. A band with a set list loaded with hits and a new album that isn't some pale imitation of past glories. Dang. There might be some substance here after all.
Courtesy Vancouver Province