Let’s ‘Danse’: Duran Duran heads to the Birds Nest

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Duran Duran bassist John Taylor doesn’t mind playing the hits in concert. He knows what his fans want, and they’ll get it.

The legendary pop band will do just that at the Coors Light Birds Nest at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9. Duran Duran will offer a career retrospective set along with a few songs from 2023’s “Danse Macabre” sprinkled in.

“We always try to give the people what they want — even if they don’t know that’s what they want,” he said via Zoom.

“There are obvious cornerstones, and we just build the set around that, really. We go from the inevitable songs to a few surprises.”

The band last played in Phoenix (the Footprint Center) on Sept. 7, 2022. Part of the WM Phoenix Open, the Birds Nest show “came a little bit out of nowhere.”

“We had a fantastic show at the arena,” he said. “This is a different kind of show in a different kind of venue. It’ll be fun.”

He smiled when it was suggested that 8,000 fans should be dubbed an “intimate gig.” The Footprint Center holds 12,500 for concerts.

“When I was a kid, I don’t think I ever saw a band play to more than, probably, 3,000 people,” he said. “That was what everybody played. The ‘arena circuit’ didn’t exist in Europe or the U.K. back then. We didn’t really have anything that was the size of a basketball or hockey arena. We had Wembley (Arena), which was a converted pool. It would have been like an Olympic swimming pool.”

Late last year, Duran Duran released the album “Danse Macabre.” The English band — which also includes singer Simon Le Bon, drummer Roger Taylor and keyboardist Nick Rhodes — weaves new songs, themed covers and reimagined versions of its songs. The album — Duran Duran’s 16th — was inspired by a live performance in Las Vegas on Halloween 2022.

“It crept up on us,” John said about “Danse Macabre.” “We decided we were going to play eight cover songs in Las Vegas. The way we go about performing a song like that is we go into the studio, and we record it, and everybody figures out what their parts are.

“Once we have a nice mix of it, then we know what we have to play live. We just find it’s the most organized, coherent way to go about it.”

They had such a fun time playing the songs, and because they already had the recordings, Duran Duran used it as a starting point for “Danse Macabre.” Duran Duran added originals like “Love Voudou,” “Nightboat” and “Secret Oktober 31st.”

“We had an opportunity to write a song, and then we got three songs out of it,” John said. “You never really know what you’re going to get. Starting an album like (2021’s) ‘Future Past’ is a big commitment from the get-go. I’m not sure how much of an appetite we have for that at the moment. I’m talking about myself, too.”

Included in the collection’s 13 tracks are Halloween covers of Billie Eilish’s “Bury a Friend,” Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer,” the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black,” the Rick James-inspired “Super Lonely Freak,” Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Spellbound,” Cerrone’s “Supernature” and the Specials’ “Ghost Town.”

The album also includes collaborations with former Duran Duran band members Andy Taylor and Warren Cuccurullo, Nile Rodgers, and producers Josh Blair and Mr. Hudson.

Andy joined Duran Duran in 1980, co-writing and playing guitar on its first three studio albums: “Duran Duran” (1981), “Rio” (1982) and “Seven and the Ragged Tiger” (1983), before going solo. Sixteen years later, he returned for 2004’s “Astronaut” (2004). He parted ways again in 2006.

Guitarist/songwriter Cuccurullo joined the band full time in 1989, contributing to the albums “Big Thing” (1988), “Liberty” (1990), “The Wedding Album” (1993), “Thank You” (1995), “Medazzaland” (1997) and “Pop Trash” (2000).

 Fast forward to 2023 and Andy and Cuccurullo’s presence on “Danse Macabre” celebrates Duran Duran’s raw energy.

“It definitely has a lot of different flavors to it,” John said. “I think that it’s quite an interesting album for anybody who’s followed the band — especially from the beginning and knows where we’re coming from and knows of our influences.”

John called it an album that’s quite different from the previous release, “Future Past.”

“I was starting to wonder whether anybody has the attention span to give 16 new songs a listen,” he said. “I wonder whether anybody can really pull that off anymore. I’m only thinking about my own attention span. It’s hard to find time to watch a movie in its entirety. I can do that for, like, three movies a year, maybe.

“So, the idea of sitting down and listening to an album from start to finish (is sometimes inconceivable).”

He recently thought of David Bowie’s 1970s albums, which were “really short.”

“After the CD came along, every album was a double album — what we used to call a ‘double album.’ The thing I like about ‘Danse Macabre’ is there are a lot of songs you’re going to know. It’s not like you have to wrap your head around a whole new oeuvre.

“When we go at a new album, we’re going to write songs and reinvent the sound of the band. We hope everybody’s going to love it. It’s asking a lot of people, really.”

Duran Duran’s next project is finishing an album with Andy, who has cancer, that would have been released between 2004’s “Astronaut” and 2007’s “Red Carpet Massacre.”

“For several reasons, the album was put on hold,” John said. “He left the band, and we did ‘Red Carpet Massacre.’ Andy plays on ‘Danse Macabre,’ so we decided to bring that album to closure.”

Duran Duran w/ Fitz & the Tantrums

WHEN: Doors open at 3 p.m.; Duran Duran goes on at 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9

WHERE: Coors Light Birds Nest, Scottsdale Sport Complex Field No. 1, 17020 N. Hayden Road (82nd Street and Bell Road), Scottsdale

COST: Tickets start at $175

INFO: www.coorslightbirdsnest.com


Courtesy Phoenix Entertainer! Magazine