A PRAYER WITH DURAN DURAN
by Cassie Morien
I can’t remember the last time the concert bar was set so high on a warm and windy Wednesday evening.
Last night, on the Ford Stage, English new wave rockers Duran Duran brought a storm to South Florida.
In the precious moments before they arrived, when the crowd is positioned on the tip of their toes in anticipation, a deafening roll of thunder shook from the stage. There was another crack, a flash of white light, and then another thunderous boom that left my knees weak. The crowd, of passionate fans of all ages, broke out in screams.
The storm released lead singer Simon Le Bon, bassist John Taylor, drummer Roger Taylor, and keyboardist Nick Rhodes upon South Florida. The synthpop legends threw themselves into “Paper Gods,” off their fourteenth studio album sharing the same name.
It was admittedly my first time hearing the single off their 2015 release, and I was astounded. Listening to it through my headphones (which I’ve been doing since their set ended) does the track zero justice. That song was destined for big stages, strobing lights, and Le Bon’s unconstrained vocals.
Speaking of appearances, Duran Duran looks good. REALLY good. Are they aging backwards? Have they gone all Benjamin Button on us?
They have put a lot of love and thought into their live show. Each and every detail from their stage arrangement, backup singers, and accompanying lights was so appreciated. In addition to mind-melting rainbow colors, disco balls, and eerie cathedrals as visuals, the band also shared imagery of our beloved David Bowie. The group’s ensembles were also thoughtfully coordinated and subconsciously made the set even sharper than sound alone. I had to make a conscious effort to remove my jaw from the floor.
Adoring fans weren’t stuck in 2015 for long. With “Wild Boys,” Duran Duran sank our hearts and hips back into the 1980s. The crowd threatened to drown out the band with their own singing, but Le Bon and friends sang higher.
“Is anybody hungry?” Le Bon teased, before allowing us to feast on “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “A View To A Kill,” and “Come Undone.”
The first time I had the pleasure of seeing Duran Duran was at Miami’s Ultra Music Festival in 2011. Now, if that sort of leaves you scratching your head, you’d be correct. I was thrilled to see the act, but the crowd and fit was not quite right.
However last night, at SunFest, with families and loyal fans of all ages, Duran Duran was in perfect sync with the crowd. I can’t so easily recall a band with so much energy and prowess. I was honored to be before these rockstars. Their set was flawless.
Le Bon paused to briefly apologize for a sore throat, which was undetectable from where I was standing, and shared the band had been in our sunshine state for a spell.
“Florida has been so good to us these last couple of week,” he said, before soaring into “Last Night in the City.”
They performed all of their beloved hits “Notorious,” “Pressure off,” “Planet Earth / Space Oddity,” “Ordinary World,” and “I Don’t Want Your Love.”
When the band briefly exited the stage for their encore, the crowd was not yet ready to see them go. Screaming and whistling, we called for the brilliant musicians to share every second they could spare. Le Bon and the band came back out and the stage lights dimmed to purple.
“Yes, please. We’ll have some more,” Le Bon said. “We’re going to go purple for a little bit, in honor and memory of the great artist Prince. It is a terrible, terrible loss for music and the world.”
Le Bon shared that Prince’s music helped move the world differently, and credited the gone-too-soon artist as the inspiration for “I Don’t Want Your Love” and their other “funky” sounds.
Duran Duran sang a mournful, yet beautiful, version of “Save a Prayer,” and ended the last line with “This is what it sounds like, when the doves cry.” It was incredibly touching and needed, as all of our hearts are broken from the recent loss.
Ending with “Rio,” the band relished every second of their fans’ screams by stepping out on the catwalk and shaking hands and toasting to the night.
Before his final exit, Le Bon called us “the best in the world.” We really are, South Florida.