The New Romantic superstars brought saxophone solos, sex appeal and one scary baby to Amalie Arena on Saturday.
TAMPA — On a screen hovering over the stage, keyboardist Nick Rhodes furiously tapped buttons inside a spaceship whizzing above the Earth. His bandmates wandered a futuristic cityscape, helmets in hand. Each disappeared from the video in a flash.
Seconds later — in person — the silhouetted members of Duran Duran stepped out before a screaming crowd at Amalie Arena. Against the fog: shoulder pads and tousled hair. A music video come to life.
What more would you expect from one of the biggest bands of the 1980s MTV era?
Duran Duran’s packed Saturday night show proved that, even after four-plus decades, the New Romantic superstars from across the pond still can get a crowd grooving. Named after the band’s 2021 album, the Future Past Tour had a little bit of both elements in its name — but mostly past. The nearly two-hour performance was dominated by chart-topping hits from decades ago.
“Hungry Like the Wolf,” “Rio” and “Notorious” all turned into dance parties. Duran Duran also dedicated a heartfelt “Ordinary World” to the people of Ukraine.
For the most part, vocalist Simon Le Bon sounded just as sensational as his recordings, though he had a few hoarse moments in the earlier songs. Having navigated vocal range issues in the past, he knew how to get back to smooth singing by midshow. In the meantime, he distracted the audience by bouncing around in a pair of shiny silver pants.
Plus, there were the video screens behind him.
Cheesy animated white doves soared over band members during “Save a Prayer.” Floating eyeballs and black-and-white horror movie clips flickered in the background for “Friends of Mine.”
“Scary baby time,” Le Bon announced before “Lonely in Your Nightmare.” The screens hovering above were overtaken by a giant lip-syncing baby doll. It was, indeed, scary — until the song melted into a funky cover of “Super Freak.”
The two openers showcased various slices of Duran Duran’s identity. Pop rock band Bastille offered representation from fellow Brits. Nile Rodgers and Chic laid the foundation for an evening of booty-shaking.
Rodgers has composed and produced for everyone from Beyonce to Diana Ross. Rocking a pink bell-bottom suit, he ran through some of his favorite collabs, including David Bowie hits “Let’s Dance” and “Modern Love” that got the whole arena moving. Since Rodgers also worked with Duran Duran over the years, one would hope he would pop back onstage with them. After all, he did in 2016. No such luck for Tampa this time.
Instead, synth god Rhodes layered a bouncy soundscape from behind a fortress of five keyboards. Backup singers in metallic red wrap dresses and go-go boots marched next to him, looking like a pair of Star Trek extras. Both Roger Taylor on drums and John Taylor on bass kept the arena thumping. And did we mention the numerous saxophone solos?
The pop stars, all in their 60s, still have that raunchy swagger. To kick off “Come Undone,” Le Bon noted the local humidity levels before asking, “Do you have a lot of sex in Florida?”
Later, camera clicks and strobe lights flashed into a mashup of “Girls on Film” and Calvin Harris’ “Acceptable in the 80s.”
“It was acceptable at the time!” Le Bon crooned, almost apologetically.
Duran Duran has been on a victory lap in the past few years, including a 2022 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Paramount+ announced it would air a new docu-concert from the band this month. Thank the pop gods for that.
Their live performance still feels like a music video you want to watch over and over again.
Courtesy Tampa Bay Times