Hotness at Steelhouse Omaha: Duran Duran Delivers Stellar Show

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“OH MY GOD! HE’S SO HOT!”

That’s what a Millennial woman screamed over the sold-out floor at Steelhouse Omaha as Duran Duran took the stage for an almost two-hour energetically flawless performance that segued from classics to more recent recordings. I have no idea to which current band member the enthusiastic fan was referring: lead singer Simon LeBon, bass player John Taylor, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, or drummer Roger Taylor. But it really didn’t matter. The crowd came out to see men, now firmly in their 60s, who over a 40+-year history have gone from 1980s boy-band darlings to Rock & Roll Hall of famers in 2021. They’re essentially rock icons now, and their evening in Omaha—only the second since they first performed here in 1989—demonstrated why. In fact, no opening act was needed, so they didn’t bother. Duran Duran delivered what fans wanted and expected without a warm-up, without an unnecessary distraction.

For the most part, the show consisted of beloved classics, often with saucy twists, whether that meant artful phrasing of lyrics or the video accompaniments that ran behind the band. There was something ridiculously satisfying hearing tunes right of the gate like “The Wild Boys,” “Hungry Like the Wolf,” and “View to a Kill” performed live so tightly, cleanly, and seamlessly. The songs sounded as fresh as ever, and LeBon’s voice was surprisingly clear and resonant after so many decades of belting out the lyrics. He was the most engaged with the audience throughout the night and genuinely seemed to enjoy himself. The other band members were more “down to business,” focusing on their instruments and back-up vocals.

Crowds, of course, joyfully belted out every well-known chorus. Composed mostly of Gen X, they were there when the songs first made their debuts on the airwaves and MTV, but there were also Millennials and a sprinkling of Gen Xers who joined in the fun.

Back-to-back ‘90s hits ”Ordinary World” and “Come Undone” allowed some welcomed Emo vibing about midway through the concert before launching into high-tempo dance bangers like “Planet Earth,” “The Reflex,” and “Girls of Film,” with most people in the crowd working to restrain their movements to the beat.

Happy surprises included Duran Duran’s renditions of Rick James’ “Super Freak” and and the Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer.” The videos that ran the entire performance showed why these were such good selections. The images depicted such wide-ranging clips as the German Expressionist film “Nosferatu” to the band’s own videos from “Black Moonlight,” which depicts a seance. Whether it was a talking doll head or a cartoon rendering of a woman brandishing a knife, there was a unifying current of weirdness that strung through the clips. “They’re so freaky and creepy; I love them!” my review companion enthusiastically said. “It’s like if David Bowie and Salvador Dali had a baby!”

That was an ah-a moment for me. She’s absolutely right. Duran Duran has always had a bit of a glorious weird, artsy, and experimental edge, and that became clear as all their hits alongside some deep cuts played one after the other.

The encore featured “Save a Prayer,” poignant and bittersweet as ever, before launching into a raucous version of Rio, timed with an 80s-inspired light show as Duran Duran brought down Steelhouse.

Hopefully, Duran Duran won’t wait as long to come back to Omaha for another tour. Stay creepy and freaky, fellas. Stay hot.

Courtesy Omaha Magazine