Dance-Happy Duran Duran Delivers 80s Ecstasy

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Don't stop believin' in the '80s. The original members of the Cars have reunited. The Go-Go's are playing at the Minnesota Zoo. Tiffany and Debbie "Please Call Me Deborah" Gibson are touring together. (No, not at malls.) And a new compilation in the best-selling "Now" series of hits will be released May 3 -- "Now That's What I Call the '80s."

Nothing says the '80s more, though, than Duran Duran, those pretty-boy Brits who took off just as MTV was launching. Since reuniting in 2003, the Fab Five have made three comeback albums, the best of which is "All You Need Is Now," released last month. The vintage-sounding new album has sent Duran Duran on a back-to-the-roots tour of clubs, including the instantly sold-out Epic nightclub Friday night in Minneapolis.

The lads still have cool hair, a buoyant dance-rock sound and the right attitude. With heart and enthusiasm, they delivered an evening of Generation X nostalgia. The packed throng responded with one of the loudest ovations ever witnessed at any of the incarnations of Epic (remember, it used to be known as Glam Slam, then Quest).

After a boring series of videos from the new album functioning as the opening act, the four Duran Duran dudes in black took the stage. Nick Rhodes still looks dashing with his blond hair and guyliner. Bassist John Taylor remains eternally handsome, spiky hair and all. Roger Taylor was hidden behind the drum kit. And singer Simon Le Bon -- well, with his beard and dark hair, he resembled a neatly trimmed Robin Williams.

At 52, LeBon hardly looked like the suave golden boy for whom the girls swooned in the '80s. But his voice was strong, his spirit renewed and his energy infectious. He wore this club redux quite well.

Augmented by a guitarist, saxophonist and female backup singer, Duran Duran opened with their first hit, 1981's "Planet Earth" (which sounded so new-wave it evoked the B-52's), and quickly bounced into its always invigorating signature song, "Hungry Like a Wolf. " Then it was time for new material, which, frankly, bogged down much of the middle of the set with its lack of dynamics. The exception was the ebullient new "Girl Panic," which nicely set up the closing flurry of hits -- the exciting "Careless Memories," the rocking, bass-driven anthem "Sunrise" and the spirited "Rio." Duran Duran capped the 100-minute triumph with an encore of the dark, edgy James Bond theme "A View To a Kill" and a kickin' "Girls on Film."

The mostly Gen X crowd went wild, well, as wild as they get away nowadays with their kids safely at home. "I'm 41. I feel like I'm 14," an overly gleeful woman volunteered without being asked. "All the good stuff of 14."

Now, that's what I call '80s ecstasy.

For a set list, go to www.startribune.artcetera

Jon Bream • 612-673-1719

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