Last time Duran Duran was in Orlando, for a 2005 concert with the Orlando Philharmonic, it was more of a spectacle than a rock show.
On Sunday at UCF Arena, the band was back without all the extra company on stage — and the result was leaner, louder and utterly joyous fun.
Officially, it’s the Red Carpet Massacre tour, named after the band’s new album. Although a few of the solid new songs hit the mark on Sunday, lead singer Simon LeBon and the remaining Duran members — drummer Roger Taylor, bassist John Taylor and keyboardist Nick Rhodes — are smart enough to know that the new stuff isn’t the main attraction.
It was a mere 15 minutes into the show when the familiar introduction to "Hungry Like the Wolf" sent a charge through the audience. It was a healthy turnout, despite some pockets of empty seats in the cozy arena.
Actually, the hall was cozier than usual, configured eater-like setting that cut the available audience space in half.
Visually, the band accented its "weren’t-the-‘80s-terrific" style with a striking, deep-blue backdrop of a city skyline illuminated by an arsenal of spotlights, strobes, fog and other effects. Along with all the high-tech stuff, there were some simple, effective touches.
Strings of white light bulbs were occasionally lowered into view about the musicians to create a warm, street-party kind of feel. Also nice was the prism effect created by the spotlights pointed out above the crowd.
Although Duran Duran is known as much for its visual style as its music, the handsome lighting wasn't employed to distract from the music. On stage, the songs pack impressive, often surprising power.
The new songs showcased a range of sounds, from the swaggering beat of the title track to the slinkier dance beat of "Nite-Runner."
After jokingly alluding to Duran Duran’s "checkered past," LeBon told the crowd how proud the band was of its new album.
He offered a shout-out to Justin Timberlake, who co-wrote and produced Red Carpet’s "Falling Down." On Sunday, the song was a captivating combination of gorgeous harmonies and a big chorus.
As the band moved past the halfway point of its 2-hour set, the nostalgia train began to roll: "The Reflex," "A View to a Kill," "Save a Prayer," "Ordinary World," "Planet Earth," "Notorious," "Girls on Film," "Wild Boys."
My gosh, plenty of favorites.
The biggest, of course, was saved for the encore. Although everyone saw it coming a mile away, "Rio" was still an exuberant finale to a rock show that hit all the right notes.
Courtesy Orlando Sentinel