Duran Duran Makes Screaming Fans Feel Young Again at State Theatre

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Duran Duran makes screaming fans feel young again at State Theatre
Published: Thursday, October 20, 2011, 10:00 AM Updated: Thursday, October 20, 2011, 10:15 AM
John Soeder, The Plain Dealer By John Soeder, The Plain Dealer

“Screaming reverses the aging process,” Simon Le Bon assured hyperventilating Duran Duran fans.

If so, they must have shaved off more than a few years during the ever-chic British rock group’s concert Wednesday night at PlayhouseSquare’s State Theatre.

A near-capacity throng had plenty to howl about. Three decades after their MTV heyday, Le Bon & Co. were still looking good – and sounding better than ever.

Even before the lights went down, the adulation was in full swing. A large screen displayed a live Twitter feed with mash notes to the band, particularly bassist John Taylor, whose hairdo paid homage to Cameron Diaz in “There’s Something About Mary.”

Only hours after Cleveland broke its all-time precipitation record, it was only fitting that Duran Duran should open with “Before the Rain,” a melancholy ballad off the group’s latest album, “All You Need Is Now.”

The set list struck a winning balance between “now” and “then.” No fewer than seven new tunes, including the standouts “Girl Panic!” and “Leave a Light On” (which found Le Bon strumming an acoustic guitar), held their own alongside “Planet Earth,” “Notorious,” “Hungry Like the Wolf” and other throwbacks to the heady days of Rubik’s Cube and New Coke.

Duran Duran’s flair for visual panache remained intact, too. “Blame the Machines” was accompanied by scenes from “Metropolis,” while band members’ faces were projected on giant translucent masks above the stage.

In July, the group called off a European tour after Le Bon damaged muscles controlling his vocal cords.

But the swaggering frontman sounded great on this occasion, especially on a soaring “Ordinary World.” The latter tune was blessed with some elegant riffing courtesy of auxiliary guitarist Dom Brown.

Mainstays Le Bon, Taylor, synth wiz Nick Rhodes and drummer Roger Taylor were also joined onstage by backing vocalist Anna Ross, percussionist Chastity Ashley and sax player Simon Willescroft.

Originally dismissed by some as a triumph of videogenic style over musical substance, Duran Duran can now enjoy the last laugh. Its visionary amalgam of alt-rock, funk and synth-pop has been embraced by a new generation of bands, including Neon Trees, which got the audience warmed up with a dynamic, retro-flavored set.

Duran Duran performed just under two hours. For the encore, they worked a bit of the Frankie Goes to Hollywood hit “Relax” into “Wild Boys” and bowed out on a high note with the New Romantic escapism of “Rio.”

Le Bon, who turns 53 on Oct. 27, reminisced about Duran Duran’s first gig here, at the Pirates Cove in 1981.

“There was a pole right in the middle of the stage -- right where I stand,” he recalled.

Le Bon also mentioned the mirrored ceilings and vibrating beds at the old Swingos hotel. How did he know about those? He left that to our imaginations.

(see slide show here)


Before the Rain

Planet Earth

A View to a Kill

All You Need Is Now

Blame the Machines

Come Undone

Safe (In the Heat of the Moment)

The Reflex

The Man Who Stole a Leopard

Girl Panic!

Is There Something I Should Know?

Tiger Tiger

Careless Memories

Leave a Light On

Ordinary World


Hungry like the Wolf

(Reach Up for the) Sunrise


Wild Boys