April 22, 2011
Duran Duran turned the sold-out Epic nightclub into a decidedly retro '80s party palace on Friday night, delighting their maturing but still passionate fans with an energetic 100-minute set full of hits both new and old. While the band's rather self-indulgent act of having 40 minutes of their own videos serve as the opening act left much of the crowd restless and impatient, their spirited performance more than made up for it, with the packed house easily losing themselves in the celebratory anthems of the Birmingham group.
The band (which featured the four original members plus Dom Brown on guitar, Anna Ross on backing vocals, and an occasional saxophonist) led off strongly with "Planet Earth," a hit off their 1981 self-titled debut, and officially got the party going in full swing with "Hungry Like The Wolf." Frontman Simon Le Bon was in great voice and spirits all evening, joking about what a pleasure it was to play in Minneapolis even though the venue reminded him of Less Than Zero.
The swelling crowd clearly took to "All You Need Is Now," the first single from their new album of the same name, but the dynamic older tracks were always bound to get the biggest ovations, so "Notorious" (which Le Bon appreciatively dedicated to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis) and "The Reflex" easily overshadowed some of the weaker new material that dragged down the middle portion of the set.
But it was Duran Duran's moodier, New Romo slower songs that resonated the strongest for me, with "The Chauffeur" (complete with Le Bon donning a driving cap) and the epic "Ordinary World" both soaring pensively amongst their ebullient other songs. Throughout the performance the effortlessly cool bassist John Taylor provided a steady, consistent rhythm along with drummer Roger Taylor, giving the songs the push and pulse that they needed, while Nick Rhodes mostly hid behind a wall of keyboards and gave the numbers modern sonic effects and flourishes that kept them sounding fresh. The band as a whole really hasn't aged all that much after all these years, looking like wiser, more world-weary versions of their early, boyish selves.
The end of the main set closed with a flurry of older hits (just like it began), with "Careless Memory" and the always rousing "Rio" both setting the place off. After a brief break, the band returned to a wild ovation, and rewarded their longtime fans with a lively rendition of their suspenseful Bond theme "A View To A Kill." And even an overlong, drawn-out band introduction during the fitting set closer "Girls On Film" couldn't ruin the celebratory nature of the song.
The band also did a tasteful job of linking their classic style of synth-pop with a modern day hit, audaciously adding a verse of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" to the end of "Girls On Film," with Rhodes rapidly taking photos of the lively crowd the entire time. That vibrant finish sent all of Duran Duran's faithful fans home happy and quite thankful for being transported back to a simpler, more carefree time, if only just for an evening.
ritic's Bias: I proudly owned a copy of Seven And The Ragged Tiger on vinyl when I was younger, but admittedly haven't given the band much thought in well over 20 years. I was pleasantly surprised how well the band and their songs have held up.
The Crowd: Lots of longtime fans who were teenagers when the band was in their hayday. Sadly, most of them haven't aged nearly as well as the band has, though.
Overheard In The Crowd: Lots of boos every time a new video would queue up before the show. During the show, nothing but cheers.
Random Notebook Dump: Epic is the most poorly laid-out venue in town, with pillars and staircases blocking nearly every good view in the club. It leaves the entire audience pushing to get into a small square of space that provides unobstructed views, and creates a cranky crowd filled with people who can't see. And why have all of those screens set up throughout the club and not have the show displayed on them for those that can't see the action onstage?
For more photos: See our complete slideshow by Erik Hess.
Hungry Like The Wolf
All You Need Is Now
Safe (In The Heat Of The Moment)
Leave A Light On
Blame The Machines
(Reach Up For The) Sunrise
A View To A Kill (Encore)
Girls On Film/Poker Face (Encore)
More photos: click here