See more photos in Timothy Norris' slideshow, "Duran Duran @ Nokia Theatre."
Duran Duran, Neon Trees
September 27, 2011
Better than...practicing your first kiss on a John Taylor poster.
"I've reached the age where I need to put glasses on to see the set list," said Simon Le Bon at Nokia Theatre Tuesday night, shortly after the band played their James Bond theme, "A View to a Kill."
The crowd laughed. Maybe it was because Le Bon is still quite the charmer. Maybe it was because the audience understood. It was a poignant moment in the show, an acknowledgement that the members of Duran Duran aren't the hot young band hanging on the walls of teenage girls anymore. After more than 30 years in business as Duran Duran, the band has matured and so has their audience.
There are groups who made waves in the '80s and came back in recent years to find an audience of people who were barely out of diapers during their first incarnation. Duran Duran isn't one of them. Their crowd, at least at this show, consisted of new wave loyalists who seem to have stuck with the band the whole time. The audience knew all the codes of the Duran Duran fandom. They knew what to chant, they knew the things you don't understand when you've only seen a band once or twice live. They were Duranies. I felt like a n00b.
Earlier this year, Duran Duran played The Mayan as part of American Express' Unstaged concert series. I was there. It was my first Duran Duran show. That's a bit of a strange revelation when I tell you that they were my first ever favorite band, that they (and David Bowie) are to be credited with my near-lifelong obsession with music, but these things happen. The Mayan show was a special event. It was broadcast live online with effects by David Lynch. There were special guests, including Beth Ditto and Gerard Way. Though it was a great show, it wasn't a typical one. I may have seen Duran Duran, but I hadn't seen them how they normally are in concert. That's why I went back.
Also, I went back with the hope that they would play "The Chauffeur," which they didn't play at The Mayan and which, I had heard from our Nightranger columnist Lina Lecaro, they did play at Coachella. Guess what song didn't get played last night? It's okay, that just means I'm going to have to keep seeing them until I hear my song.
In their normal setting, Duran Duran puts on an impressive show. The band basically splits their set between the oldies (up to The Wedding Album) and their newest material from the album, All You Need Is Now. They leave out the bulk of their 1990s and early 2000s material, save for "(Reach up for the) Sunrise," which is both good (no awkward covers of "White Lines") and bad (no "Electric Barbarella").
Times have changed since Duran Duran was a big enough band to be on the radar of everyone from adults to kindergartners. The 7,100-capacity Nokia Theatre is certainly a smaller venue than those played on the "Sing Blue Silver" tour, though it's still sizable. But despite the passage of time, there are some things you can expect from Duran Duran. The show will be elaborate. In this case, video projections accessorized the show, the highlight being when the faces of the band's four core members appeared on screens above the stage, trying on sunglasses, during "The Reflex."
Meanwhile, now-grown women will scream loudest at the site of John Taylor on the jumbo screen as he knowingly grins. Nick Rhodes will always be fashionable in the most over-the-top way possible (leopard print and ruffles, hell yeah). Roger Taylor will remain slightly hidden by the drum kit (such is the life of the drummer), but when the camera turns on him, the crowd will go wild. As for Le Bon, he is the debonair front man, the James Bond of concert stage. He even introduced himself as "Bon, Simon Le Bon" at the end of Tuesday night's show.
One thing that we can assume has changed is the band's use of technology to keep fans in the loop, even when the show is in progress. Before the show, the Twitter hashtag #duranlive appeared on screen. Near the middle of the program, when the band busted out the instrumental "Tiger Tiger," Taylor reminded us to keep tweeting. Shouts to friend that the band was playing this lesser-known track from Seven and the Ragged Tiger and cries of "Play that fucking bass, John" ran across the screen for all of us to see. I thought about sending out a few more tweets over the course of the night, but, honestly, I was having a hard enough time diverting my eyes from the stage long enough to scribble in a notebook. The Twitter promotion worked. Duran Duran was still trending on the social networking site at 7 a.m.
The crowd: People who bought Rio when it was first released and some of their kids.
Personal bias: Like I said in the review, Duran Duran was my first favorite band.
Random Notebook Dump: Neon Trees's song "Animal" sounds almost the same live as it does every time I hear it on Star 98.7. Did I just admit to listening to Star?
(We weren't able to grab a copy of the set list. This is all taken from my notes. If I'm missing anything, or if something appears to be out of order, please let us know in the comments.)
Return to Now
Before the Rain
All You Need Is Now
A View to a Kill
Blame the Machines
Safe (In the Heat of the Moment)
Leave a Light On
The Man Who Stole a Leopard
Hungry Like the Wolf
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(Reach up for the) Sunrise
The Wild Boys/Relax (Frankie Goes to Hollywood cover)