Duran Duran Live!

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Duran Duran live!

ilentertainer | Oct 24, 2011 | Comments 0

Very few bands survived the new-wave era with integrity in tact, and though Duran Duran’s certainly made a few missteps along the way, the Fab Five (well, technically now just Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, and Roger Taylor), haven’t just survived but thrived. Besides the band’s hysteria-inducing beginnings and a second bout with fame in the ’90s, the group’s currently in the midst of another resurgence. Granted, its latest, All You Need Is Now (S-Curve), isn’t tearing up the charts, but its return-to-form sound is fashionable once again thanks to shout outs from The Killers, Goldfrapp, Franz Ferdinand, and tourmates Neon Trees.

As a result, a sold-out Chicago Theatre on Friday the 21st included everyone from the expected 40somethings who used to pin posters of the boys on their bedroom walls, to a smattering of unapologetic hipsters who’ve realized much of the latest dance-pop revival wouldn’t be possible without these players. And while the two-hour, 20-track evening had enough of the hits to appease longtime listeners, this tour wasn’t just a trip down memory lane.

The first glimpse of All You Need Is Now came in the icy “Before The Rain,” which sounded like it could’ve come off Rio and found Le Bon nailing his signature vocal twists. Now in their late ’40s/early ’50s, its members have aged well musically and visually, continuing the focus on fashion that’s been a major element in the band ethos since the neo-romantic movement. In fact, the sleek “Blame The Machines” could’ve very well come from that period if it wasn’t for the shiny and decidedly modern production (which on record was assisted by Mark Ronson).

As the show progressed, the old and new regularly mixed, from ultra-fun flashbacks like “Planet Earth” and “A View To A Kill” to the equally synth-heavy “All You Need Is Now” and the current club smash “Girl Panic!” (arguably one of its strongest, most chic singles to date). This particular night also found DD painting outside the usual lines to unveil some rarities like the sultry instrumental “Tiger Tiger” and the punk-tinged “Careless Memories,” two examples of the band’s artistic depth beyond the bubble gum of “Hungry Like The Wolf.”

The only unneeded track at this stage of the game was “Ordinary World,” a brilliant ballad on The Wedding Album, but one that found the frontman struggling to reach the especially high falsettos. All was forgiven come the funky “Notorious” and an unexpected but well tailored medley of “Wild Boys” with Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s like-minded “Relax.” Throw in the brass-doused “Rio,” and Duran Duran retained just the right balance of its commercial past and increasingly celebrated present that’s still writing influential chapters in the new wave world and beyond.

– Andy Argyrakis
Courtesy Illinois Entertainer