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Duran's still got it

By DAVID CONNOLEY

IT'S almost 18 years since Duran Duran's Roger Taylor packed up his syn kit, departed from one of the worlds biggest drawcards and headed to the land.

For seven years prior, Duran Duran had set the pop world alight.

And in the space of a wild and frenetic three years the English popsters had 13 hit singles and a decadent rock lifestyle that was running amok.

Those wildly extravagant days in the classic Duran Duran line up, with all the excesses, the hair dos, the girls and the glamour finally took its toll.

When Taylor bade farewell, soon after the monumental Live Aid show, the drummer was happy to adopt a quieter lifestyle.

To this day Roger Taylor has avoided the limelight preferring to ride his horses in the English countryside and steer clear of the ``madness.''

Now based in the US, Taylor remembers those days with clearer eyes and head. ``I took up farming but I was more a gentleman farmer, never a real one,'' Taylor laughs.

``But it was a great change for me. It was great to get into a new environment and get away from all the madness.''

Roger Taylor had earlier also been part of a side project with Nick Rhodes and Simon LeBon in Arcadia, with guest performers Grace Jones, Sting, David Gilmour and Herbie Hancock.

In July 1985, after some time apart, the five members of Duran Duran got back together to play in Philadelphia at the historic Live Aid concert.

Although no one knew it at the time, that would turn out to be the final performance of the original line up and would mark the end of an era.

Fast forward to 2003, and on the eve of their silver anniversary, the classic Duran Duran lineup of Simon Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, bassist John Taylor, guitarist Andy Taylor and Roger Taylor are back together again.

They will appear with Robbie Williams at the Rod Laver Arena on December 10 in addition to a special solo show at The Metro on the night prior.

For Duran Duran fans it should be a show to savour. Who can forget hits such as Hungry Like The Wolf, Girls On Film, Rio and Save A Prayer?

Speaking from New York where Duran Duran were in rehearsal for the coming tour, Taylor says the band are back sounding better than ever.

``We feel very fresh and more powerful than ever. We are also playing some of our old material such as Wild Boys and View To a Kill for the first time live with this line up on this tour.

``We've improved a lot. We all benefited from the other projects we did.''

As for playing on the same bill as Robbie Williams, the band was initially in a quandary.

``Robbie Williams called our management to see if we were interested to join his tour. He's a big fan of ours apparently but we have yet to meet him.''

Whether there is a chance for the two acts to join forces ``just depends''.

``Nothing is confirmed yet,'' according to Taylor. Once we get to Australia who knows.''

But Taylor did promise a show that was a grand retrospective of Duran Duran hits.

Taylor was also looking forward to renewing his acquaintance with Australia.

``Australia embraced us. We really enjoyed going there. I can still remember Molly and his hat and staying in Double Bay and eating at a place, now what was it called, Doyle's. Is it still there?"

At their peak, Duran Duran fused pop music, art and fashion to an unprecedented degree and single-handedly took music video making to a new level.

Princess Diana was enamoured with the band while the media compared them to the Beatles as hysteria preceded them, both on stage and off.

Duran Duran set the sonic template for the '80s and captured an army of adoring fans.

Taylor says the fans are still out there and the band's popularity hasn't waned either if a recent show in London is any indication.

The 2000 capacity Forum Theatre in London was overrun with 200,000 fans wanting tickets.

The show sold out in four minutes. ``It was mayhem,'' Taylor said of the show.

``There was a lot of old fans reliving their youth, plus younger fans. A lot of those younger fans know about us because a lot of new bands today are citing us as an influence,'' he said.

The show marked a remarkable comeback for what many hail as the best of the Duran Duran line-ups.

The press were in raptures too.

``Duran Duran showed they've still got what it takes to drive their fans wild with a storming UK comeback gig last night,'' glowed The Daily Express.

In 2000, with the band's silver jubilee fast approaching, the timing felt right and conversations were initiated to reform.

As 2003 rolled around Duran's original 'Fab Five' went back into the studio to embark on their first album together in almost 18 years, working with the `king of groove' Nile Rodgers.

Charged by the challenge of ``taking back their crown,'' Simon, Nick, Andy, Roger and John have been working overtime to complete the new material in time for a release early next year.

The live reunion was hastened under the premise of recording the new album.

The band will reconvene in January to complete the album reportedly with Felix Da Housecat at the helm.

In addition EMI releases Duran Duran The Greatest DVD video anthology, on this month. The 2-DVD collection brings together all the videos from Duran Duran's years with Capitol Records (1981-1994).

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