Following the charge of the Thin White Duke, this second British Invasion came across the ocean, its bands as disparate as Billy Idol, Def Leppard and Gary Numan. To pulverize our charts, what they and others like Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Eddy Grant and Wham! — even Iron Maiden — had over our continental efforts was an overall superior video savvy at the dawn of MTV, when absolutely nothing mattered more.
Fashionista five-piece Duran Duran mastered this as well as anyone else, gorgeous as individuals yet deep and slightly pornographic in their approach.
Fast forward 35-plus years to today, and the electro-pop-funk band wasn’t just riding fumes of nostalgia at the downtown arena, they were lighting bonfires with their new music in a two-hour set that included confetti cannons, still-handsome singer Simon Le Bon tearing up over the recent death of his mother and moments throughout the night where each band member primarily wearing one of the ROYGBIV colours had her/his own moment in the spotlight.
Keeping up their reputation for outfits you’d love to be able to pull off the rack, Le Bon entered the bowl in white pants and a neon green motorcycle jacket and sneakers as DD worked through the rather contemplative Paper Gods, a circling indictment of the Black Mirror age set to disco.
Above them and all night, terrific visuals morphed from a forest to a 64-bit purple mutant boss monster for the familiar Wild Boys, both Le Bon’s voice and the overall sound at Rogers leaving little to bitch about.
“So did you drink your beeeer?” the 58-year-old singer growled, “And did you eat your hot dogs? Or is everybody still HUNGRY?” Ha! Cue Hungry Like the Wolf, one of the band’s money-makers, red spotlights glowing in the background, singer-dancers Anna Ross and Erin Stevenson not-so-secret stars of the show on the periphery.
They vanished for 1985’s A View to a Kill, a peephole video of a semi-nude woman in a blood-spattered shower flanked by two silhouette Bond girls as Roger Taylor — Duran Duran’s subtle weapon — beat the drums below. “My name is Bon. Simon Le Bon,” the singer purred later on.
While I was surprised to be on the younger edge of the audience full of Boomers and older Gen Xers, Le Bon declared, “Standing here on stage up in front of you, I can’t help but notice what a good-looking group of people you are. It’s great to be in Canada. Duran Duran has had a special relationship with Canada for the last 38 years — did I say 38, I meant 37,” he said, joking he was showing his age.
He noted of the outfit, “When you get inside this it’s really sweaty. Anyone want to get inside this with me?” Cue screams echoing back to moisturizing Tiger Beat pinups on the bedroom wall back in the ’80s.
The maudlin Come Undone seemed to take an upgraded aim at our Instagram selfie era, then back to disco for Last Night in the City, Le Bon dancing with the ladies as beams of light clawed into the very loud 6000-plus crowd. What Are the Chances was a good makeout song (check), guitarist Dom Brown having earned his spot over the last decade with the band. Next was Notorious and BAM without any warning I shot back 30 years to the David Bowie show at Commonwealth where the band opened under the Glass Spider, playing the same song, as the woman in front of me (then, not now) shook her hair directly into my nacho cheese.
Meanwhile, back in the present, the funky new Pressure Off was tight, Nile Rogers and Janelle Monae joining us in black and white as video images, Le Bon’s jacket now off and revealing what looked a little like Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes clown mime. The janitors had their “here we go” moment as the first of the confetti guns blasted twinkling paper out and up.
Appropriate Tron-era graphics iced the cake on Hold Back the Rain, the highlight so far with John Taylor’s crucial bass, and Le Bon praised the very praise-worthy openers Capital Cities, who in stripes delivered Coachella-style funboy music, perhaps cruelly asking us to stand over and over on our orthopaedics — but upbeat song after song (Kangaroo Court, Vowels, I Sold My Bed Not My Stereo) did a Tim and Eric great job of warming us up, Safe and Sound a perfect label for this whole wave of easygoing, evil-free summer jams currently owning the American-apparel festivals.
Le Bon began the next song noting his mom passed away last month. “Somebody said to me the other day, ‘Now she’s around every time you play,’” choking up on the last word he said, “I’d like to dedicate Ordinary Day … to my lovely mother.” The staircase of a white palace slowly turned its lights out on the screen above, and Le Bon hit the strongest, highest note of the night. Gulp.
I Don’t Want Your Love led to a medley of Sunrise and New Moon on Monday — a very full set — then things got amazingly goth-industrial for a rusty and ragged version of Grandmaster & Melle Mel’s White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do), echoes of Let’s Dance as a flashing skull loomed above. No The Chauffeur, but we forgive them.
For the encore, Save a Prayer and Nick Rhodes’ big moments on keys as the smartphone starfield appeared — then a remixed version of The Reflex, Le Bon dancing around and forming a human Y as he did all night. Finally, under the feline Patrick Nagel print, Rio — saxophonist Simon Willescroft’s moment in the sun accented by giant beach balls and more confetti blasts, into which Le Bon pushed his pelvis (like you wouldn’t).
With a bow, he smiled, “We’ve got to come here more often!” Deal!
Courtesy Edmonton Journal