Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Fab Five Live

Duran Duran
Thanks to a very lucky break at work last week (a regular customer of ours just strolled on in to the store and dropped off a pair of concert tickets, saying that he couldn't make it to the show and he didn't want anything for them) , Sarah and I headed downtown last night and took in the Duran Duran concert at the The Bert L. and Iris Wolstein (formerly CSU) Convocation Center. It was our first show in nearly two and a half years (the last being none other than Peter Gabriel), and it turned into a pretty enjoyable night out, all things considered.

Since I've seen Duran Duran in their Medazzaland incarnation back in 1997, and I was less-than-thrilled with their reunion album Astronaut, I was actually more psyched to take in the night's opening band, VHS Or Beta. As openers, they were a lot of fun to listen to, but not the most exciting live act in the world to watch. Happily, VHS Or Beta made up for their lack of stage presence with a half hour of snappy, Cure-by-way-of-Daft Punk disco-rock, which seemed to catch the fancy of quite a few in the audience. It also didn't hurt that Duran Duran were kind enough to allow their guests the use of their Vari-Lite rig, so at least a shifting palette of greens, purples and yellows kept the eyes busy while VHS Or Beta laid down the robogrooves.

You'd have thought that The Beatles themselves were in the house judging by the deafening level of screams that greeted the "classic lineup" of Duran Duran when they took to the stage and kicked into "Sunrise" (their comeback single and hands down the best track on Astronaut). Following that quickly with "Hungry Like The Wolf" and assorted other classic hits and new songs, Duran Duran put on a pretty damn good show - even better than when I'd seen them before ... though I suppose for a face value of $56 a (decent, but not amazing) seat, the crowd wouldn't have been very happy with anything less. They boys have certainly been taking care of themselves as well as most of them looked to be in dependably pretty fighting form, save perhaps for Andy Taylor's cowboy/Keith Richards getup. Hell, even Simon LeBon's famously-limited voice sounded pretty strong.

About four or five songs in, once my ears accustomed to the frankly rotten sound mix (keyboardist Nick Rhodes was almost completely drowned out whenever the others were playing), the show really started to wear my defenses down. The set list was well paced, with some rather surprising selections performed ("Hold Back The Rain" and "Careless Memories") in lieu of some of the expected bigger hits ("The Reflex" "I Don't Want Your Love" and "Come Undone"). I even have to admit that the band flogged Astronaut pretty effectively onstage, and the new songs certainly seemed to pick up some kick from the live setting (looks like I'll have to give the album a second shot and see what sticks this time).

Hands down, the high point of the show was the midsection at which time the boys started knocking 'em out of the park one after the other. Following the surprise of hearing Rhodes play the Eastern-flavored instrumental "Tiger Tiger" while the rest of the band slinked offstage for a quick breather, I was knocked sideways by a strong rendition of "The Chauffeur" (my favorite song to this day from Rio). From there it was onto an always-lovely "Ordinary World" and then a beautiful rendition of "Save A Prayer" while digital snow fell on the screens suspended behind the stage. Ah, bliss.

From there on, it was nearly all the tried and true crowd pleasers, as the band dragged out "Is There Something I Should Know," "Girls On Film," the traditional show-closer "Rio," "Notorious" and "The Wild Boys" (the last two are almost wincingly silly songs, granted, but the crowd absolutely ate them up).

So, a surprisingly entertaining show overall (if nothing else it made me drag out some old Duran faves from the CD shelf - what more can you ask of a show than that anymore?) and a nice night out on what almost felt like the first real spring day of the year. Here's hoping that this same regular stops by the store again if he can't make the U2 show in December...


Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention the amazing amount of bloodshed being shown on the background screens!

KeithHandy said...

I'm not convinced that Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is something you want to go and see live.