"Were they still cute? Um, hello…? This is Duran Duran!" - Amy Richards Curcio gets up close and swoony with Duran Duran.
Did they play hits? With 30 years of new wave classics in their repertoire, Duran Duran creatively interspersed their well known hits with tracks from their new album All You Need is Now, creating a show that went down like the perfect Duran Duran mix-tape. While the fans (myself included) loved hearing singles Hungry Like the Wolf, Planet Earth, Rio, Girls on Film, Notorious, Ordinary World and View to a Kill, it was a special treat to hear lesser-known tunes from their first three albums including Careless Memories, Friends of Mine and The Chauffeur that weren’t constantly played on the radio or MTV.
Was the new record worth hearing? Duran Duran’s 80’s albums are tough to match, but fortunately their latest is reminiscent of the band’s Seven and the Ragged Tiger days, easily confirming the wild boys (men?) haven’t lost touch with their new wave roots. Poppy but moody with an emphasis on oddly curious yet sensitive lyrics, Simon LeBon’s voice sounds as sultry as it did in 1986, Nick Rhodes is still the master of his Roland synth and John Taylor oozes sexiness with his deep-rhythm bass lines, while the strong-but-funky drums pound along thanks to Roger Taylor.
Tonight the album’s title track, which includes the lyric, “and you sway in the moon the way you did when you were younger” seemed oh so appropriate for the nearly-middle-aged crowd. When ballad Leave a Light On reminded me of Save a Prayer (which was sadly omitted, from the set.) I forgot what year it was and waited for the sea of lighters to start flickering, but had to be satisfied with the glow of cell phones instead.
Were they still cute? Um, hello…? This is Duran Duran.
Luckily for the crowd, many of who spent the show channeling their inner 12 year olds, Duran Duran have aged well. All still look hunky and, Hair Club for Men or real locks, they still have all their hair! While Simon relies on a beard to create defined cheekbones in his now-fuller face, he still has the swagger, albeit without the washboard abs. Dressed in all black, he sashayed across the small stage at Royale, crooning with those bedroom eyes that have made girls weak in the knees for nearly 30 (!) years. John Taylor too was still overloaded with charisma – the face, the hair, the biceps (once he removed his standard blazer/scarf combo), the smile, the moves, the “O” face when he sang the chorus of Wild Boys… Though Nick and Roger were more hidden behind their equipment, I could only assume they all have the same esthetician.
Did they still rock? Having seen the band a few times over the past 20 years, I’ve come to expect a top-notch performance from the boys from Birmingham, but what I’ve seen, I’ve only ever seen in arenas. At Royale – a 775 person venue – I knew the show would require impeccable playing. After all, the audience were so close to the stage they could see every move and hear every note. The band had to BRING IT. And brought it, they did! Simon, loud and proud, with John dancing around each other, sharing a microphone on some choruses and encouraging the crowd to sing-alongs; Nick taking photos of the audience during an intense encore that included Girls on Film mashed-up with Lady Gaga’s Poker Face; non-veteran guitarist Dominic Brown’s edgy riffs making synth pop actually rock; yes, the band gave the audience the very show they wanted to see.
What did it cost? $68. But for a special occasion like this, in a small venue, that was nothing.
Worth turning up for the opener? If a 40-minute viewing of the videos from All You Need is Now counts as an “opener”, I’d say no. Although this is arguably a good way to get everyone in the audience who hasn’t heard the band’s latest up to speed, but really? All NINE songs? I lost patience after video #3. Conveniently, video #6 did turn out to be a perfect time to take a bathroom break.
Was it worth getting my butt off the sofa to see? Never did I think I’d be almost 40 and still swooning over Duran Duran, but seeing my adolescent heart-throbs 25 feet away, singing their lungs out and looking hot as ever did the trick. They haven’t lost their sex appeal, stamina or skill. I’ll always get off the couch for these guys. And even shake my groove thang. The 38-year-old, straight, married guy standing next to me, singing along to every song, seemed to share my sentiments.