(Palace of Auburn Hills, MI - March 24th, 2005)
Duran Duran personified new wave for much of the mainstream audience. And for good reason, too. Duran Duran's reputation was built through music videos, which accentuated their fashion-model looks and glamorous sense of style. The clever videos helped make Duran Duran's rise to popularity remarkably swift between 1982 and 1984.
But their fall from grace was equally fast. By the late '80s, the group's line-up had fragmented, and the remaining members had trouble landing hit singles. Nevertheless, the group pulled off a surprising, if short-lived, comeback in the early '90s as a sophisticated soft rock trio, before finally garnering all the original members back last year and launching one of the comeback tours of the modern era.
As the heartbeat white spot lights rhythmically pound, one by one all five original members of the British band walk to the front of the circular stage. Covered still by the dark blanket of unlit suspense, the beats of the spots increase until one by one the band walk to their chosen instruments - leaving Simon LeBon alone at the mic.
Yelping into the mic, '(Reach Up for The) Sunrise' is the first song of the night, though it has to be said (from the overall reaction of the crowd) that a medium-sized Duran hit would have been more expected (nay, appreciated!) by the near sold-out crowd. Dressed in a black suit, white shirt, and black tie, LeBon is noticeably slimmer than previous years. Making good use of the entire stage, he doesn't so much as prowl like olden days, moreover struts his way to his adoring fans.
"Detroit, how are you tonight?" he asks, the many responses lost in the following opening bars of 'Hungry Like The Wolf' - which, come the last chorus, also featured the one and only time that LeBon ran from the back of the stage, leaping on through the drum and keyboard sets, circa 1986! Next, 'Hold Back The Rain' is introduced by John Taylor asking the crowd, "Can anybody tell me where we are?!", which in turn is backed by the lackluster 'Astronaut.'
"It's so nice to be in front of you tonight," LeBon admits. "I feel a lot of love coming off the crowd tonight," he adds, before heading into the nu-Duran classic, 'Come Undone.' A disjointed rendition of 'Waking Up The House' messily merges into 'I Don't Want Your Love,' before LeBon removes his jacket and, now sitting side stage on a stool, sings the new track 'Chains.'
Easily the best track of their new album, 'What Happens Tomorrow' finally gets the crowd thinking that perhaps they should indeed buy the Birmingham (UK) boys latest CD, but complete with purple lights, their first ever single 'Planet Earth' immediately plunges them all back into the early Eighties! Seemingly never without a cigarette hanging from his mouth, Andy Taylor is at one with his speakers, aiming his guitar directly into them at any given moment to enhance the riffs. Roger Taylor on drums is casual, non-smiling, noticeably pensive as to what all the commotion is still all about after all these years, and Nick Rhodes, well, he's simply the cool, calm, heavily make-upped mannequin that he always was! Bassist John Taylor is another cool character, but just doesn't seem to be the focal point that he once used to be. Craving the sanctuary of his own side mic, he rarely confronts the central limelight, instead allowing the show to go on around him.
After a rather boring instrumental allowing LeBon a dress change, he comes back to the strains of 'The Chauffer' - dressed as, yep, a Chauffer! The song is greeted with rapturous appreciation by most of the crowd, some younger fans obviously bemused as to its origins. Dedicating the next song, 'Ordinary World,' to the memory of Ron Taylor, the just-passed father of Andy, they follow that with a rather weak version of 'Save A Prayer,' 'Bedroom Toys,' and the song that finally gets everybody back on their feet, the under-rated 'Notorious' - which mysteriously features the chorus line of Sister Sledge's 'We Are Family'!
Seemingly high on his own thoughts, LeBon tells the crowd, "Do you know what the best thing about you guys is? Well, the best thing about Detroit is that you're all so f**kin' nice!", before running through the bland track 'Nice.' 'Reflex' is next, followed very quickly by a tired version of 'Careless Memories,' although the backing video (a rare treat on this tour) of the much-younger guys saving Tokyo from a Godzilla-type monster, space ships and huge robot warriors ... with their instruments ... was worth its weight in visual gold!
'Wild Boys' brings the show to an end, but there's not much downtime backstage before the guys are back out and crucifying the Grandmaster Flash hit 'White Lines (Don't Do It).' Now wearing one of his own '1987' tour Ts, a light-bulb flashing start to 'Girls On Film' is performed next. And just when the extended version was seemingly wandering, LeBon stops to introduce the band ... and the fabulous female backing singer, Ms. Anna Ross.
After a worrying clip of 'Groove Is In The Heart' is messed with, the last song of the night, 'Rio' is unveiled and as if sensing this was their last time to show true adoration to their idols, everyone is now up on their feet. Bringing the show to a close, coming to the stage once again in unison, Duran Duran may not have devilish youth on their side, but they have longevity, they have conviction, and they have arena after arena of fans that will be there for them no matter what. Tonight, for sure, the boys were back in town and no daughter's had to be locked up ... a few mothers, perhaps, but that's a whole different story!
Photos & Review by Russell A. Trunk