Wednesday, December 1

Duran Duran Review – Still Wild Boys Even In Middle Age | Duran Duran

‘NORTHumber two in Birmingham! “shouts Simon Le Bon, kicking off a second sold-out local show at the 1,500-capacity Institute. With fans packed like sardines, pandemic or no pandemic, and the band practically in their faces, the place much more intimate than Duran’s regular arenas gives a glimpse of what it must have been like to see them when they were the resident band at the Rum Runner club four decades ago.

The occasion, before the biggest shows, is a preview of next month’s new album Future Past, which is released tonight. Invisible Is taken. The haunting funk tune about the struggle to be heard in today’s world is usefully illustrated when the band is nearly drowned out by 1,500 screaming, middle-aged Durannies. The Reflex of 1983 and Notorious of 1986, with chic influence, unleash waves of hysteria among the public that are never far all night.

After two years off the road due to Covid, Duran has returned hungry like wolves and in absurdly good shape for men in their 60s. Smiling bassist John Taylor seems to have defied the aging process. Black-clad blonde keyboardist Nick Rhodes still looks like Andy Warhol turned New Romantic. Le Bon might have put on a few kilos locked up, but some nights like this will soon change them: The stage-hungry singer seems to be having the time of his life. He delights in unearthing his catalog of stage movements, from singing to front row members individually to perfectly executed 360-degree spins.

Le Bon, who camps him mercilessly all night, suddenly adopts the mocking aristocratic voice of an old-school English actor. “I’m not going to say that in 1982 we became the biggest band in the world,” he jokes theatrically. “Even if it’s true.” Is.

Le Bon, Taylor and tour / studio guitarist Dominic Brown.
Le Bon, Taylor and tour / studio guitarist Dominic Brown. Photograph: Jason Sheldon / REX / Shutterstock

There are two more new songs. Anniversary unites a bass line similar to Frankie’s Two Tribes with a signature Duran chorus. Le Bon challenges the audience to sing Tonight United even though it only aired for the first time the night before, and they do. Otherwise, Planet Earth takes the roof off and View to a Kill brings a Bond theme to a small room in Birmingham, but the career-spanning track list goes deeper than those copper-bottomed ’80s hits. My friendsSince its debut, it is the great DD single that never was: deeply New Romantic and electronic but with a chorus as great as any of them.

As the leader observes, the 1993 sublime Ordinary World “takes on a new relevance” with the pandemic (“I will not cry for yesterday, there is an ordinary world, somehow I have to find it”), and its singing crowd turns it into a real goose bumps moment.

(Reach Up for the) Sunrise from 2004 raises everyone’s arms accordingly. The band even releases their often-ridiculed version of Melle Mel’s White Lines (Don’t Do It), the “just say no” of middle-aged white rock rap groups, and sends it so far that it brings the house downstairs.

Girls on Film knowingly dives into Calvin Harris’ Acceptable in the 80s. The Wild Boys and Rio ride down the stretch with the roar and finesse of an expensive sports car, as the crowd seizes the last chance to shout along with their heroes. After what Le Bon calls “an incredible 40 years,” Duran Duran may no longer be the biggest band in the world, but after all this time and in such close quarters, it’s still obvious why they were.

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