Duran Duran Still Deliver Quality

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Duran Duran Still Deliver Quality
by Jason Macneil

Although their future might not be quite as colourful or successful as their nearly three-decade history, longtime British rock group Duran Duran are still delivering quality in the here and now.

Playing to approximately 6,000 Thursday night in the Air Canada Centre's theatre setup, the 80s synth-tinged band offered a two-hour, 21-song salute in support of their latest offering All You Need Is Now.

Led by lead singer Simon Le Bon – who celebrated his birthday on this night (more on that later) – the at times eight-strong ensemble opened with a moody Before The Rain from the new record before the galloping Planet Earth took those in their thirties and forties back to the band's heyday.

Decked out in sparkly, bedazzling pants and sporting a beard, Le Bon welcomed the crowd before offering a few more off the new record. The title track held its own while another number – Girl Panic! -- brought to mind their earlier albums like Arena and Rio thanks to the work of bassist John Taylor. Unfortunately there was some filler with The Man Who Stole A Leopard being quite artsy and tedious.

“I've got a feeling something's going on here,” Le Bon said in reference to his birthday and a possible surprise practical joke. He also cracked up at a homemade poster wishing him a happy 29th birthday. “I f—-ing love you!” he quipped.

With the stage sparse on gadgets aside from four masks overhead which projected different band faces and other images, Duran Duran got loud responses with the smooth, sophisticated groove oozing from Come Undone and The Reflex, the latter started with Le Bon and a fan singing the refrain.

Probably what was most telling about the night was how Le Bon's pipes never wavered in the slightest on the sweet Beatles-ish ballad Ordinary World. Unlike some singers from that vintage croaking the final warhorses these days miserably, the birthday boy was consistently solid.

The only thing that might have given away their age was prior to Leave A Light On, the latest single off All You Need Is Now. Here Le Bon asked fans to request their local radio stations to play it, something far less relevant in the digital world of the music business than it was even a decade ago.

Regardless, the band rolled out a handful of staples to close with the funky Notorious and the infectious Hungry Like The Wolf still have the desired “do do do” effect.

Prior to the encore, John Taylor, keyboardist Nick Rhodes and drummer Roger Taylor returned onstage sans Le Bon. Finally emerging, a birthday cake was rolled out and all sang Happy Birthday to him. He pranked himself though, pushing his own head into the cake which cracked up everybody. “I thought you were going to do that,” he said to John Taylor. “I can't f----- believe I did that to myself!”

Wild Boys seamlessly went into a cover of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Relax. From there Rio wrapped up things up in a grand fashion.

Air Canada Centre, Oct. 27, 2011

3.5 out of 4 stars

courtesy Toronto Sun