Duran Duran’s Future and Past Shine Bright at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena

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Duran Duran made their long-awaited return to Detroit on their “Future Past Tour,” celebrating everything from the past (like 40+ years of their iconic album Rio) to the future (like their latest single, “Danse Macabre,” the title track from their upcoming new album). “We’ve had some great times in this town, but this is the first time we’ve played a room like this,” lead singer Simon Le Bon said to a round of hearty cheers from the packed crowd at Little Caesars Arena. (It had been over 15 years since the new wave legends played the city proper.) Here are five moments that stood out from the show:

Nile Rodgers and Chic Fire Up the Crowd

Emerging onstage with his arms outstretched and a huge grin on his face, Nile Rodgers was ready, alongside Chic, to get the crowd grooving from the get-go. Starting strong with the funky “Le Freak” and gliding into other early tracks like “Everybody Dance” and “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah),” the band’s chemistry was readily apparent, whether it was through Rodgers sharing vocals with singers Kimberly Davis and Audrey Martells, strumming alongside bassist Jerry Barnes, or bobbing along to Steve Jankowski’s spirited trumpeting.

Hungry for a Fierce Start

Shrouded in smoke, the band made a dramatic entrance with the slow burner “Night Boat.” Duran Duran also electrified the crowd early by playing their huge hit “Hungry Like the Wolf” near the top of the set. “Imagine a full moon over Detroit. You got no breakfast, no lunch. How do you feel?” Le Bon teased the crowd. “Hungry!” the fans roared back enthusiastically, before helping out with the singalong.

Versatile Vocals

From the get-go, Le Bon’s singing stood out for its power and versatility. On cuts like “Wild Boys” and “Is There Something I Should Know?”, he held strong sustained notes to wrap up each track’s coda. New track “Danse Macabre” and cross-genre cover of “White Lines (Don’t Do It)” – originally recorded with Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel – proved the vocalist was more than capable of handling a flow evocative of old-school hip-hop, as well. And on more low-key tracks, like “Ordinary World,” his voice shined brightly over the subtler instrumentation.

Bass Bossing

From a band standpoint, there were ample opportunities for each artist to shine, from Nick Rhodes’ funky synth breakdown on “Girls on Film” to Roger Taylor’s powerful drums that helped close out “White Lines (Don’t Do It).”

It was bassist John Taylor’s work that helped provide the steady foundation of many of the night’s highlights, though. This was apparent in a variety of basslines that ranged from the sturdy (“Anniversary”) to the speedy (“Careless Memories”) to the sinister (“Danse Macabre”) to the rollicking (“White Lines (Don’t Do It)”).

Finishing Strong

Duran Duran wrapped up the main portion of their set with a standout rendition of “Girls on Film,” buoyed by strobe lights mimicking camera flashes, Le Bon’s soaring vocals (also assisted by the crowd, as the singer extended the mic to the fans to sing along), and Dom Brown’s skittering guitar riff.

After a brief break, the band returned for a two-song encore, putting the spotlight back on Rio, with “Save a Prayer” and the album’s title track. When Duran Duran returned, Le Bon had switched tops to a nifty custom Red Wings hockey jersey, earning a roar of approval from the crowd. On “Save a Prayer,” Le Bon urged the crowd to light up their cell phone flashlights and sing along, greeted by a sea of bobbing lights that illuminated the arena. And “Rio” kept the energy high till the end of the night, led once more by Le Bon’s potent vocals.

Courtesy Glide Magazine