Duran Duran Thrills the Ladies at Pacific Amp

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Saturday night Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon sang about wild boys, but the band’s electrifying concert at Pacific Amphitheatre was all about the wild girls.

Female fans squealed with delight every time the frontman moved across both sides of the stage or a close-up of heartthrob bassist John Taylor graced projection screens. (Read our interview with him here.) Some even waved hand-drawn signs and stuffed toys from the OC Fair’s midway in time to the music. Others were decked out in totally

Home Sweet Home, the fair’s 2012 theme, could easily apply to Duran’s return to Southern California, always among the group’s strongest markets in America (Taylor is also a longtime resident). Indeed, reserved seating in Costa Mesa sold out soon after the show went on sale months ago, and the lawn section – opened up only for a handful of the most popular shows this season – was quite full. Attendance had to have exceeded 10,000. Before start time, the merchandise booth did brisk business while enthusiasts scrambled to get their hands on as many items as possible.

This was the veteran British band’s first area appearance since Nokia Theatre nearly a year ago. Touring to support its stellar latest studio album All You Need Is Now and new, highly recommend live collection A Diamond in the Mind, Duran Duran didn’t make any surprise changes to the set list, though several visuals were tweaked. (Read our more detailed breakdown of their latest approach here.)

Le Bon was in fine vocal form, and the entire energetic seven-piece sounded excellent throughout the two-hour gig, which kicked off with an elegant “Before the Rain.” It included half of Now and most major Duran hits from the '80s, notably “A View to a Kill,” “Union of the Snake,” “Notorious” (elevated by Taylor's funky lines), “Save a Prayer,” “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “The Reflex."

Dom Brown’s searing guitar solo on “Ordinary World” and his jagged riffs on the rocking, requisite cover of Grandmaster Flash’s “White Lines” were especially memorable. Drummer Roger Taylor really proved his mettle on the tribal “Wild Boys,” from which the lyric about “an August moon” was appropriate this evening.

When they did a seamless segue into “Relax,” the fact that Frankie Goes to Hollywood music keeps popping up in unusual places lately (like the Olympics opening ceremony) came to mind. Nick Rhodes, all smiles, anchored everything with his influential synth sounds.

All told, another winning (gold medal worthy?) Duran Duran performance.

Setlist: Duran Duran at Pacific Amphitheatre, Costa Mesa, Aug. 11, 2012
Main set: Intro: Return to Now / Before the Rain / Planet Earth / A View to a Kill / All You Need Is Now / Being Followed / The Reflex / Come Undone / Safe (In the Heat of the Moment) / Union of the Snake / Girl Panic! / The Man Who Stole a Leopard / Notorious / White Lines / Careless Memories / Ordinary World / Hungry Like the Wolf / (Reach Up for) The Sunrise / Wild Boys > Relax

Encore: Save a Prayer / Girls on Film

Courtesy OC Register