Watching Duran Duran's triumphant Hollywood Bowl show last night (September 11, 2022), the finale of a sold-out, three-night run, I was reminded of seeing the late, great George Michael in his final L.A. performance, June 25, 2008, at the Forum.
Both emerged from the British new wave invasion of the early Eighties and achieved immediate pop stardom as early MTV staples. Having come up as pop stars with shiny, sleek videos, both faced an uphill battle to credibility.
Michael got there quickly, winning a Grammy, in 1989, for Album of the Year for Faith, on his way to becoming a pop icon. And by the time he played his final U.S. tour in 2008 he was rightly celebrated as one of the greatest male pop artists of his generation. That was his coronation.
Now, Duranies have known for decades their heroes are an all-time great band, one who have proven themselves for decades. And while they did win over critics the band, weirdly, still has only been nominated for and won two Grammys in the video category in 1984. So they haven't always received the recognition due for a band with a four-decade career.
However, now, with the band being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in less than two months, November 5 in L.A., the quartet (these days the band consists of lead singer Simon Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, bassist John Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor) is getting their long overdue coronation.
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Opening with "The Wild Boys," from 1984’s live ARENA album, the band treated the show as a career celebration, drawing on songs throughout their more than 40 years as a band. They covered 39 years just in the first three songs, following "The Wild Boys" with the 1982 smash "Hungry Like The Wolf" and then last year's "INVISIBLE," off their critically acclaimed Future Past album.
As the group showed time and time again during their two-hour set is the band have both incredible musicianship and are very gifted songwriters. Whether it's the dance pop of "The Reflex," the hook of "A View To A Kill," the electronic feel of "Give It All Up," the disco funk of "Notorious," featuring guest Nile Rogers, or the beautiful balladry of both "Come Undone" and "Ordinary World," Duran have incredible versatility, excelling in all styles.
But the talent for timeless pop songs has been there since the band's very first single, the infectious "Girls On Film," which closed the main set of the show. Part of how Duran finally won over even the most hardened skeptics is because of albums like last year's Future Past.
While the Bowl show Sunday closed with a raucous version of "Rio," with a massive fireworks display, Duran have earned the right to celebrate the past by pushing themselves in 2022. Despite all their past success and as dedicated a fan base as you will find anywhere, who would happily buy tickets to see the band do nothing but greatest hits every night, they would not be happy at all being a greatest hits act.
Yes, they started out as MTV pretty boys. But 40 years later there is no one left who argues that, as they showed at the Bowl, Duran Duran are musician's musicians, a great band that keeps pushing themselves to new heights.