Duran Duran mixes old and new with verve

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Review: Duran Duran mixes old and new with verve

by MARIO TARRADELL / The Dallas Morning News

GRAND PRAIRIE – For a band once consumed by appearances, Duran Duran now flaunts the music. In concert before a sold-out crowd Saturday night at Nokia Theatre, the English quintet kept the look down to a minimum. They were dressed in black and white, and the stage featured only a series of rectangular video screens hanging overhead.

So gladly the focus was on the music, both old and new. Today, there's a fresh quality about Duran Duran, not only because the original five members still look quite youthful but also because the material from last year's impressive Astronaut stands up along side the classics. Lead singer Simon Le Bon and his mates interspersed tracks from
Astronaut among a batch of hits and album cuts without losing momentum.

Musically, they are a super-tight group of guys. Roger Taylor's drum work continues to propel just about every song, while the bass and electric guitar combination of John and Andy Taylor provide one serious rhythm section. Nick Rhodes on keyboards and synthesizers adds the moody, sometimes ethereal touches.

Opening with the cool rock 'n' dance number "Sunrise" set the tone for the almost two hour gig. Song after song, the hooks were hearty, the sound arresting and the showmanship solid. Mr. Le Bon is an agile front man who works the platform with ease. He did seem a tad more
subdued than at the November 2003 reunion concert at the Majestic Theatre. But it hardly mattered since the music more than carried the performance.

In fact, there was only one lowlight: "The Reflex." It's Duran Duran's worst single, a throwaway tune that gets more mundane through the years. But with the help of saxophonist Andy Hamilton, who played on several numbers, and Mr. Le Bon's devil-may-care attitude, "The Reflex" was about as much fun as it could be.

Yet how groovy to hear so many album cuts, from the propulsive "Careless Memories" to the seductive instrumental "Tiger Tiger." We got the moody, dramatic ballad "The Chauffer" and the dance-pop gem "Hold Back the Rain."

Of the hits, "Come Undone" still sounded so sexy while "Ordinary World" again rode its gorgeous melody. "Notorious" – Duran Duran in funk mode – segued into a snippet of Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" before coming back for more R&B beats. And "Planet Earth" remains the
quintessential new wave wonder.

Too bad the crowd didn't seem that interested in some of the Astronaut songs. The album's a commercial disappointment ignored by radio and its record label, Epic. But the passionate "What Happens Tomorrow," the pulsating dance workout "Nice" and the ultra catchy title cut deserve so much attention for their musical merits.

Courtesy Dallas Morning News

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