By far the best concert of the fair was Duran Duran and Chic on Wednesday evening, probably one of the top five shows I’ve ever seen there. It was one of those magical nights where everything came together in perfect harmony: a still, warm night; happy, festive people; fun companions; great music you can dance to and an uplifting, positive vibe that permeated the arena.
We can thank two of the most appreciative and enthusiastic performers around: legendary songwriter and guitarist Nile Rodgers and new romantic front man extraordinaire Simon LeBon. It’s rare that an opening act like Chic can get the kind of enthusiastic reaction they received but when you crank out classics like ‘Le Freak, Good Times, Get Lucky, We are Family and Let’s Dance,’ the natives get happy real fast.
However, the pretty English lads of Duran Duran one-upped their longtime friend Rodgers with a nearly two-hour show of light, sound and words that entertained and enlightened everyone. The show opened with strong new material like ‘Paper Gods’ but soon transitioned into their early, mid-80s hit machine.
Keyboardist Nick Rhodes was missing so fellow band mates, some original and some not, admirably picked up the slack. But their performance was all about Bon, Simon LeBon, who pranced around with the energy of a 19-year-old, showing off very solid vocals that have held up well through the touring and recording decades.
This pop rock band from that early 80s, New Romantic heyday has performed worldwide for decades but LeBon genuinely remarked that Paso Robles and the central coast was probably the nicest venue ever. ‘You fabulous people are very lucky to live here,’ or something to that effect.