Duran Duran 03/18/11
Winstar World – Thackerville, OK
Words/Photos By Steven Anthony
Duran Duran has kicked off a new world tour in support of their latest album All You Need Is Now, and I was there for the second date of the tour in a massive casino on the Oklahoma/Texas border.
Celebrating the 30th (!!) year since their first single was released, Duran Duran quickly ran through roughly 100 minutes of some of their biggest hits, a few fan favorites and several tracks from their new LP.
Kicking off with a double dose of new tracks, Simon Le Bon & Co. delivered “All You Need Is Now” and “Being Followed” with passion and fire; It was clear after just these first two songs that the band is not content touring with only their old material.
Luckily the new stuff largely holds up, “AYNIN” is jarring, grabbing attention with a sawtooth synth line and deep pulsating bass work. The song eventually changes into a much more typical Duran Duran during the chorus, with much less intimidating synth chords and guitarist Dom Brown picking arpeggiated chords through a flange pedal.
After the two new tracks, the group settled into some of their biggest hits, playing “The Reflex” and “Notorious” back to back. Simon egged the crowd on during “The Reflex” asking them to help sing the song’s instantly recognizable vocal hook. The band’s vintage songs sound better than ever, more bass and drum heavy with the guitar and synth work filling things in nicely.
“Notorious” found Le Bon strutting around the stage, fully aware that he still drives the 40-year-old women in attendance crazy. He played up the crowd while nailing every single note, although at times it was hard to hear him over the capacity crowd singing along.
During the middle of the concert, the band slowed things down for a string of “ballads,” including the new “Leave a Light On”, “Ordinary World” (from 1993’s Wedding Album and another new track called “Mediterranea”.
“Leave a Light On” found Le Bon strapping on an acoustic guitar to play over the haunting synth section and slow but driving rhythm section. “Ordinary World” sounded exactly how you remember it sounding on the radio, with the addition of about 3,500 people singing along in the background.
“Mediterranea” is decent enough, sounding something like a weird mixture of country music and reggae. Simon said it was the first time they’ve played it live, but he was lying… as the band has performed the song across the pond in London.
The three ballads back to back had many in the crowd sitting down, ready for the dance party to start back up. Duran Duran was more than happy to oblige.
“Girl Panic!” (from the new LP) came next, and immediately had everyone back up on their feet. The bass line is one of the funkiest that John Taylor has ever played, and it matched well with Dom Brown’s riffing on the guitar. The song sounds like old Duran Duran with a few updates here and there, and is one of the main reasons critics have been calling the new LP a “return-to-roots” for the band.
“Careless Memories” was up next, and the band remained faithful to the 30-year-old song. Flange-heavy guitars, Simon nearly shouting during the chorus, it was all present. The track gave Dom Brown a chance to solo for a little bit, seemingly an attempt to cement his place as Andy Taylor’s replacement. Won’t get into boyband politics, but Brown does a fine job playing the songs, old or new.
“Wild Boys” and “Rio” came right before the encore break, whipping the fans there for the greatest hits into a frenzy. Both sounded pretty much like you remember them on the album, and the band’s second percussionist/random instrument player even came out to the front of the stage for “Rio’s” saxophone solo.
“A View To A Kill” opened the encore, and again sounded exactly how you remember it. It was at this point I realized how truly impressed I was with DD as a live band. I’ve always heard great things, but they were ridiculously well-rehearsed, seemingly ready to pull any song out of their catalog. Simon Le Bon’s live vocals were truthfully among the best I’ve heard from a live singer, literally on pitch for the entirety of the concert.
A nearly 15 minute version of “Girls on Film” closed the show, with an extended breakdown in the middle where Le Bon introduced the members of the band and gave them each some time to solo. John Taylor’s bass solo received the most praise from the crowd, with Simon telling the crowd to chant “Play the fucking bass, John” which they were more than happy to do.
After everyone’s solo segment, the boys brought it back together and finished the last two verses of the song. The show was short, missing a few of the “hits” (No “Save A Prayer” or “Hungry Like The Wolf?), but the band more than proved they are ready to tour behind their new album.
It’s refreshing to see a “classic” band from the 80s have a successful show that has more than just one new song. The guys played every song with as much passion as the last, regardless of what era the track was from.
With the ridiculous amount of promotion the band is getting, we may see them stage a very successful (and frankly, deserved) comeback (even if they never really went anywhere).
Setlist: All You Need Is Now, Being Followed, The Reflex, Notorious, Safe (In the Heat of the Moment), Friends Of Mine, Leave a Light On, Ordinary World, Mediterranea, Girl Panic!, Careless Memories, (Reach Up For The Sunrise), Wild Boys, Rio, A View To A Kill, Girls on Film