Duran Duran, Set to Play Portsmouth, Embraces the Sound of the ’80s

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Flash back to 1984 and we find Duran Duran — led by the band's heartthrob lead singer Simon Le Bon — pumping out jams for a Hampton Coliseum teeming with screaming fans.

By that time, the British band's giant hits "Hungry Like the Wolf" and "Rio" had been piped into American homes through MTV more than a year and the group was making a triumphant romp through the United States collecting kisses and dollars along the way.

Flip ahead 28 years to the present day and we see Duran Duran is still out on the road with Le Bon and original members Roger Taylor, Nick Rhodes and John Taylor.

The shrieks aren't quite as piercing, granted, but enthusiasm remains.

Bassist John Taylor insists that the crowd turning out for the band's summer tour — which stops at Portsmouth's nTelos amphitheater on Wednesday, Aug. 22 — are enjoying tunes from the group's 2011 album "All You Need is Now" almost as much as the band's greatest hits.

"It's now been 18 months since the release of the album. Now, we're all just starting to feel that the album was a success," said Taylor, speaking by phone from Rome. "Not that we have platinum sales, not in that sense. But it just seems to have been the perfect vehicle to refresh the brand, if you will. The songs have been great to play live. It's been very energizing ... There are several songs on this new album that fans really love."

Which ones, exactly?

He rattles off the title track as well as "The Man Who Stole a Leopard," and "Girl Panic," which he said inspired the band's best video in years.

The stylish clip for "Girl Panic" features supermodels including Cindy Crawford, Eva Herzigova, Naomi Campbell speaking as members of Duran Duran while a decidedly old-school, new-wave soundtrack throbs.

"I'm nostalgic for the old days, you know the shoulder pads, the big hair," Crawford says in a mock interview that's part of the video. There's lots of winking going on in both the music and the images.

Producer Mark Ronson — known for his key role in the careers of Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen — is partly responsible for the sound of "Girl Power." According to Taylor, he saw a vision for the song before the band did.

"Simon had written a lyric for that based on something by [science fiction legend]Arthur C. Clarke," Taylor said. "At first, the song was to be called 'Pale Blue Planet.' Mark said, 'It's lovely, but with the energy of this track, it has to be about girls.' "

Taylor and Rhodes retooled Le Bon's set of words to create something less spacey, more sexy. "If it had not been for Mark, 'Girl Panic' would have been 'Pale Blue Planet' and the song would not have taken on the life that it had and become this amazing video."

He said Ronson was a joy to work with. "He's a thoroughbred and a super lovely guy," Taylor said. "He's one of those great producers. You just want to do your best for him. You want to live up to his faith in you."

These days, the revival of 1980s sounds and style has emerged as a miniature industry with bands such as The Deloreans and The Legwarmers playing hits from the era to big crowds decked out in parachute pants, headbands and neon-colored sweaters.

Taylor — who divides his time between Los Angeles and England — said he hasn't been to an '80s tribute show yet. But he's not offended by the idea.

"Great. Whatever. Be my guest, I guess, would be my comment. I'm not obsessed with the '80s, myself. I'm more obsessed with the '70s."

He said that he attended a musical staging of David Bowie's 1971 album "Hunky Dory," for example.

"There were a lot of other great bands in the early '70s. Roxy Music were really big for me. Ultimately, though Bowie is the giant of that moment. He drew everybody else in ... What he was able to achieve between 1972 and 1978, he set the bar, just as the Beatles did from 1962 to 1970. We're still in awe of that. That's what keeps you going."

Want to go?

Who: Duran Duran

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 22

Where: nTelos Wireless Pavilion, 16 Crawford Circle, Portsmouth

Tickets: $37.55 to $101.15

More information: http://www.pavilionconcerts.com

Courtesy Daily Press