Duran Duran - Verona, NY - 03/30/05

By james

I've said it before and I'll say it again - for the life of me, I cannot figure out why the return of the original line up of Duran Duran has not been greeted with the full-on enthusiasm that it most definitely deserves, especially after experiencing last night's performance at the Turning Stone Casino Events Center in Verona, New York. [Where? I live 90 miles from there and I had only a vague idea where it was until last night.]

First off, there are the songs. Even if only the oldies were any good - and fuck, are they good - the original creators of 'Hungry Like the Wolf', 'Union of the Snake', 'Is There Something I Should Know?', 'Planet Earth', 'Hold Back the Rain', 'Notorious', 'The Chauffeur', 'Girls on Film', and so many more getting together to perform them again is reason enough for massive celebration. The new ones, however, ain't exactly shabby. While they may not have the familiarity of time on their side, 'What Happens Tomorrow', 'Astronaut', and especially '[Reach Up for the] Sunrise' boast the classic Duran Duran sound updated for the new millennium and - more importantly - did not sound out of place next to the giants of the first wave.

Then there's the stage show. Simon LeBon posing and dancing like the rock star he his, eating up the crowd adoration - I'll admit, he had me screaming like a little girl at times...he's Simon fucking LeBon, after all - and turning it into a stage energy and presence you don't find in most performers half his age. Speaking of age, outside of Andy - who admittedly just lost his father so is probably looking a little rough for the wear going through that ordeal - all of the Duran boys have aged incredibly well, looking and sounding just as fantastic as they did in their original heyday. Getting back to Simon "Rock Star" LeBon, he even got away with a "We are Duran Duran" comment after 'Planet Earth' AND a member by member band introduction in the middle of 'Girls on Film' - pulling a lucky girl out of the audience to introduce him - AND wearing one of his band's own t-shirts for the encore without coming off like a complete and utter prick. The mini-films for the songs were fantastic too, from the original creepy video for 'The Chauffer' to the newly created hyper-anime short for 'Careless Memores', which involved the band killing a group of attacking baddies in suits and masks with their instruments, then morphing into giant versions of themselves to take on a Godzilla-like creature, knocking down the EMI building in the process. Nice.

I can't say it was all perfect, however. It took a while for Simon to find his voice, so the opening run of '[Reach Up for the] Sunrise', 'Hungry Like the Wolf', and 'Planet Earth' came off a little rough. The show also suffered from arena sound, so the low end was more of a rumble of bass and drums than distinct sounds, particularly unfortunate during some of the more bass-driven songs such as 'Planet Earth' and 'Hold Back the Rain'. The middle "serious" section went on for a bit long for my liking, and I've never really been a big fan of 'The Wild Boys' so it appearing at the end of the main set was sort of an anti-climax for me. The biggest disappointment for me, however, was the lack of 'The Reflex' in the set list - my personal favorite song, not just of theirs but of anyone - but I suppose that's just the nature of the beast. I mean, take a look at the set list and you could easily switch out each classic for another classic that's at least just as good.

[Reach Up for the] Sunrise [Jason Nevins Mix]
Hungry Like the Wolf
Planet Earth
Union of the Snake
Hold Back the Rain
What Happens Tomorrow
Tiger Tiger
The Chauffeur
Ordinary World
Save a Prayer
Notorious / We Are Family
Is There Something I Should Know?
Careless Memories
The Wild Boys
Girls on Film / Groove Is in the Heart

I had been sitting on the fence about going to this one - $40 seemed like a lot to pay for a ticket for some reason. As soon as '[Reach Up for the] Sunrise' ended and 'Hungry Like the Wolf' began, however, my friend Anja and I looked at each other with huge grins on our faces, wordlessly expressing how worth it the expense really was.