Duran Duran throws a party at Masonic
By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press
DETROIT -- As the group vamped its way through a lengthy, extended version of its hit "Girls on Film," frontman Simon Le Bon introduced Duran Duran as "the band designed to make you party!"
And a party is exactly what the early MTV heroes threw on Thursday night at Masonic Temple Theatre, a two-hour and five-minute parade of hits played with the kind of energy and received with a kind of fan exuberance that transported the 25 years since Duran Duran's hit heyday. There were, of course, some ungainly sights of now middle-aged devotees -- the vast majority female -- dancing, screaming, swooning, sneaking down the aisles and, during the encore, stage-crashing -- but it was all done in a spirit of good fun and more than a little bit of nostalgia.
Duran Duran wasn't entirely playing for sentiment, however. The group has a new album out, "Red Carpet Massacre," that certainly fits in the contemporary pop soundscape thanks to collaborations with Timbaland, Justin Timberlake and Nate "Danja" Hills. But that was very nearly the show's undoing when the band opened with three of the new songs -- "The Valley," "Nite Runner" and the album's title track; it's not that they were unfamiliar but that Duran Duran didn't quite replicate the sleek modern club groove of their recorded counterparts, lurching rather than gliding through them.
A one-two punch of "Hungry Like the Wolf" and "Planet Earth" gave the show its real lift-off, however, and both band and fans were well warmed-up for later "Red Carpet Massacre" fare, including solidly performed renditions of the ballad "Falling Down" and the dance track "Skin Divers."
Nevertheless, the night worked best on more familiar turf, and Duran Duran -- four founding members and three adjuncts on guitar, saxophone and backing vocals -- doled out plenty of that, including "The Reflex," "Save a Prayer," "A View to a Kill," "Notorious," "Girls on Film" and the still-execrable-after-all-these-years "Wild Boys." A fluid light show filled with moving parts gave each song its own unique look, and Le Bon's tremulous voice generally held up better than the tight slacks that kept slipping down his torso -- to the vociferous delight of a good chunk of the fans.
The show's real highlight was a mid-show "electro set," a Kraftwerk-style dissemination of six songs played with synthesizers and electronic percussion that well-suited songs such as "Last Chance on the Stairway," "All She Wants Is," "I Don't Want Your Love" and "Skin Trade." The smiles on the faces of the four founders -- Le Bon, bassist John Taylor, drummer Roger Taylor (no relation) and keyboardist Nick Rhodes -- made it clear that this playful interlude was freshening the experience for them as well as their fans.
"Rio," predictably, closed the show on another eminently danceable note -- a "Reflex," perhaps, but one that certainly made sense.
Courtesy of Oakland Press