Rock Still a ‘Reflex’ for 80s Icon Duran Duran

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To herald the arrival of the new 80s icon Mazda Miata, 80s icon Duran Duran proved their staying power in Monterey.
September 3rd, 2014 John Scott Lewinski

There was a reason why Mazda’s corporate types tagged Duran Duran to play a private concert to celebrate the unveiling of the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Wednesday night in Monterey. Both the band and the car have been around for more than a quarter century, and both still have the goods.

During an hour-plus set before a happy crowd of 500 Mazda enthusiasts, the band powered through a set of hits that helped to define the 1980s — from “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Rio” to “A View to a Kill” and “Wild Boys.” Led by still dead fit and big voiced Simon Le Bon, original members Nick Rhodes, John Taylor Roger Taylor joined guitarist Dom Brown for a rapid fire run through of the band’s chart stomping history.

And, they did with the energy that belies the band’s collective age of more than 200 years. They weren’t going through the emotions, and they weren’t trying to reclaim past glory. They just played the music the crowd knew and loved with veteran precision.

I digress for just a moment — as I often do on the following topic — to address the fact that Duran Duran is not in the increasingly irrelevant Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I’m not a huge mark for Le Bon and company, but I can appreciate history. Whether you might consider Duran Duran co-ed pinup pop or early techno alternative, the band put 14 hits in the Top 10 and sold more than 100 million albums while holding together for 30 years. They led the Second British Invasion of the early 1980s and (as shown to Mazda’s private gathering of 500 enthusiasts Wednesday night) can still power through an energetic greatest hits set.

Still, the band stands alongside The Cars, Journey, Deep Purple, Depeche Mode, Ozzy Osbourne, The Smiths, Stevie Ray Vaughn, The B52s, Cheap Trick, The Cure, Dire Straits, The Doobie Brothers, Eurhythmics, Iron Maiden, Jim Croce, Jethro Tull, Judas Priest, The Moody Blues, Megadeath, Peter Frampton, The Guess Who, Pat Benatar, Chicago, Joe Cocker, Motley Crue and Yes – serving up one collective question: What is the point of any Hall of Fame that ignores the famous?

Please read through that list again. All of those bands are not in the Rock and Hall of Fame.

Sadly, it looks like the Cleveland-based museum fell into the hands of self-aggrandizing eggheads desperate to impress a disinterested world in their own academic masturbation by placing obscure acts lost to history in the Hall before the bands that the fans who support rock and roll would rather see honored. It’s the nerdy, poser know it all telling the fan, “You’re too stupid to know the work of groundbreaking 1949 rhythm and blues flautist Swollen Balls Mincey, so you’ll have to wait to get your internationally famous Duran Duran into OUR museum.”

Who’s in instead? Grab a year like, say, 2000, and count the “sidemen” you’ve never heard of in your lifetime. See? You’re just not as clever (or as anally self-worshipping) as whoever tosses darts at the Hall’s annual nomination list.

I did get off topic there, but I feel better now as I return to the business at hand: In an era of iTunes and music “stars” manufactured by reality TV, a Duran Duran show presents the chance to see a veteran rock and pop powerhouse capable of playing a 90 minute set without deviating to a single song you don’t recognize. Don’t let them pass by if you get a chance to catch them live.

Duran Duran, Mazda Miata, Monterey , CA performance

Courtesy Crave Online