Straight from the show to the pages of Cherry Lipstick in record time - here is our fan's eye view of Duran's first of two shows in Las Vegas. Thank you, Jason!
Last night in the city (of Las Vegas), Duran Duran found a comfortable space that showcased the band’s formidable legacy without sounding tragically nostalgic. In doing so, Duran delivered a precise show that could satisfy the casual couple out to hear “Rio” one more time as well as the most devoted Duranie who checks each setlist on Twitter in hopes of hearing “their song” which was never released as a single. Finding such a balance isn’t easy when you have a multitude of classic hits that people want to hear and, speaking honestly as a fan, Duran Duran haven’t always gotten this right. This time, they nailed it.
As the lights went down, the opening synth sweep of “New Religion” set the tone for the night. A brilliant mix of the band’s funky bass lines, a grinding guitar riff, and Nick Rhodes's layered atmosphere; “New Religion” finds the many influences of the band coalescing into something unique, something we call Duran Duran. This was followed by a string of hits that would make many bands blush with envy. Wearing a Hunky Dory Like the Wolf t-shirt, Simon LeBon plays the suave frontman with a knowing wink these days. Even when the vocal range stretches a little to far, he sells it with such a lovable grace that we are all reminded to wear our little flaws proudly. We are only here on planet earth for so long. Better dance and smile while you can.
Dom Brown made a strong case for becoming an official 5th member of the band with some brilliant guitar on “Ordinary World” which led into the evening’s highpoint with “The Seventh Stranger”. As videos from 1984 played above the stage, the band performed one of those so-called deep cuts for the fans who have stayed with them through the years. It was an emotional ride as the fans sang loudly hoping their teenage selves could hear them somewhere in the past. When Brown tore into Andy Taylor’s iconic guitar solo, it felt like an eruption of love for a band that was always more than a pretty pop band.
Maybe sensing the emotional peak of that moment, the set list wisely turned playful for two songs with a revelatory “Tempted” that made a strong case for us to revisit what Red Carpet Massacre was all about and the always fun “White Lines (Don’t Do It)”. Then it was back to the golden years for a finish of “Planet Earth” and a wicked remix of “Girls On Film”. During “Planet Earth” you could faintly hear the most ardent fans yelling “switch it off” as LeBon once did on a live version. It would have been missed by most but it brought a huge smile to this writer’s face.
The encore again gave those fans a treat with a raw take on “Friends of Mine” which had older fans dancing in the aisles and singing about famed bank robber Georgie Davies. Missing from the set, but not actually missed, was “The Reflex”. Based on last night, “A View To A Kill” might be best retired as well. It fell a little flat and the vocal gives LeBon fits. The band has too many hits to play as it is and something from All You Need Is Now is oddly missing on recent tours. The show ended as it so often does with “Rio” and the sight of beach balls flying across the room like a New Wave Jimmy Buffett concert. At almost 90 minutes, the length of the show left you wanting moreif you salivate over finding a rare Japanese pressing of Pop Trash at a fan’s pop-up store before the show (guilty as charged). But it was just perfect if you wanted to re-live a little of your 80s youth hearing some pop-rock classics that have weathered the storm better than expected. Just like we have.