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Duranies Triumphant Return

The original Duran Duran reunites for smoking hot show at L.A.’s Roxy:

    Last night (Tuesday, July 15), the original ’80s Duran Duran lineup celebrated their 25th anniversary by playing Los Angeles’s 450-capacity Roxy nightclub as a warm-up for their much-hyped brief U.S. reunion tour, which officially kicks off tonight at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa, California. Not only was this the group’s first Stateside performance in 18 years, but it also marked another homecoming of sorts, as the Roxy was the first American venue Duran Duran ever played back in 1981.

    Although Duran Duran have never stopped recording and touring, the original lineup only recorded three studio albums together–1981’s Duran Duran, 1982’s Rio, and 1983’s Seven And The Ragged Tiger–before the departure of Andy and Roger Taylor. With the recruitment of Frank Zappa/Missing Persons guitarist Warren Cuccurullo, the band continued on as a quartet until John Taylor chose to leave in 1997, after which Le Bon, Rhodes, and Cuccurullo persevered as a trio. This year’s tour–which began July 7 in Osaka, Japan–reunites the classic Duran Duran lineup for the first time since Live Aid in 1985.

    ….Judging from the reaction inside the packed club, these Duran devotees–wearing customized T-shirts emblazoned in rhinestones with the individual band members’ names and bearing roses and gifts for their idols–definitely felt they got their money’s worth. The moment the band, still stylish as ever in their natty black suits and multi-zippered trousers, launched their 14-song set with “Friends Of Mine,” the entire crowd was a seething, screaming, sweaty mass. No one in attendance seemed to mind that John had let his hair go gray, that Andy had put on a little weight, or that the long-missing-in-action Roger wore a hangdog expression throughout the set, as if he was less than overjoyed to return to the public eye; seeing the group perform new wave classics like “Hungry Like The Wolf,” “Planet Earth,” “Waiting For The Night Boat,” “Is There Something I Should Know,” “Wild Boys,” “Careless Memories,” “Girls On Film,” and “Rio”–as well as later-period songs that Andy and Roger were playing live for the first time, like “Come Undone,” “Ordinary World,” and “Notorious” (although, strangely, no Seven And The Ragged Tiger tracks)–made them feel like it was 1983 all over again. The audience was even warmly receptive to two new songs from Duran Duran’s upcoming reunion album (due out in 2004), the dreamy, “Ordinary World”-ish ballad “What Happens Tomorrow” and the funky uptempo number “Virus.” [Launch]

Reuniuon tour, new album – I am 23 again. I was at that first Roxy show back in 1981, and I don’t care what anyone says, they rocked. The first two Duran Duran albums are among the best of the ’80s – influenced equally by hard rocking Spiders From Mars-period Bowie, disco, and technopop, Duran Duran created inventive music with great rhythmic drive (thumping bassist John Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor – no relation), searing Mick Ronson-like guitar (Andy Taylor – no relation either), new wavy textures (keyboardist Nick Rhodes), and distinctive vocals (from Simon Le Bon).

Side 1 of Duran Duran is about as exciting and consistent as new wave gets: a long, moody electro-dance intro leads into “Planet Earth” with Rhodes’ synth swooping, hissing, and voicing a convincing “sax” solo over a supple Chic-like groove from the rhythm section. “Girls On Film,” besides being a great song, is the most convincing piece of funk from English white boys on record. After a fashion-camera sound effect intro, a precise but huge-sounding syncopated drum groove rolls in accompanied by spine-snapping bass, quivery synth washes and Le Bon’s lyric about the vicious glamour of supermodeling (three of the Duranies later married fashion models).

“Is There Anyone Out There” keys on Taylor’s punchy guitar and another fine melody, and “Careless Memories” charges through on an ominous techno beat and Le Bon’s toughest singing.

The band’s second album, Rio, recorded shortly after the debut, is another superbly-produced new wave gem. Rio displays a wide sonic palette: the familiar rocking alterna-disco of the title track, “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “My Own Way,” and “Hold Back the Rain”; a jazz-and-jangle sound of slippery fretless bass and guitar arpeggios on “Lonely In Your Nightmare”; angular Gang of Four-type punk-funk muscle on “New Religion”; and a lush, engulfing wall-of-synths cushion on the alterna-ballad “Save a Prayer.”

Together, the first two Duran Duran albums sold over 3 million copies in the U.S. alone, verified that a band could be dancey and ballsy at the same time, and solidified the commercial appeal of new wave at a critical juncture in the music’s development. In addition, the Duranies helped establish the power of music video (and its primary outlet MTV) as a marketing tool through a series of enormously popular clips featuring the fashionable, photogenic band. Yeah.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: [email protected], Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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