Review: Duran Duran in Oakland, 7.7.17

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As Simon Le Bon crooned and the capacity crowd swooned, one thing became abundantly clear during the Duran Duran show on July 7 at the Fox Theater in Oakland:

This band most definitely belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

And it’s absolutely baffling that it still has yet to be enshrined, despite being eligible for induction for over 10 years now.

Want me to name names? OK, fine. I’d vote for Duran Duran above Cheap Trick, Journey, Hall & Oates and Deep Purple, for starters. And, let’s face it, “Save a Prayer” is worth more than Rush’s entire catalog.

Too bad the Rock Hall has such a despicable track record when it comes to recognizing post-punk, New Wave and modern-rock pioneers like Depeche Mode, Joy Division, The Cure and The Smiths. And let’s not forget the act that made all those others possible – Roxy Music.

Still, the omission of Duran Duran is the biggest headscratcher of the bunch, given the band’s potent combination of massive commercial success (over 100 millions records sold and counting), longevity, quality of work and influence on music, fashion and culture in the ‘80s.

Le Bon and company underscored all those selling points during their nearly two-hour show in Oakland, opening with a solid version of the title track to their latest album – 2015’s “Paper Gods” – and continuing on to charm the crowd with a mixture of cuts from throughout their catalog.

The multiplatinum band – which also features keyboardist Nick Rhodes, bassist John Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor – didn’t make fans wait long before getting around to the good stuff, playing such top 10 hits as “The Wild Boys” and “Hungry Like the Wolf” during the first half hour of the concert.

Some songs – like “Notorious,” for example – sounded delightfully dated, bringing us right back to the decade of the MTV, “E.T.” and Corey Feldman. Others, such as the gorgeous “Ordinary World,” sound like they could still be hits today.

The party peaked with a tremendously fun and funky rendition of the Melle Mel hip-hop classic “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It),” which Duran Duran recorded on the 1995 covers album “Thank You,” followed by the fan favorite “Girls on Film,” which brought the main set to a close.

The group quickly returned for an encore, hitting the crowd with a terrific two-song flashback to 1982 – “Save a Prayer” and “Rio” – that should have eradicated any lingering doubts that Duran Duran deserves to be enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next to The Beatles, Black Sabbath, Elvis Presley and the genre’s other immortals.

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Courtesy Jim Harrington/Mercury News