Press

Still ‘hungry like a wolf’

01:00 AM EST on Friday, November 3, 2006

By Rick Massimo

Journal Pop Music Writer

PROVIDENCE — Duran Duran’s show at the Providence Performing Arts Center last night was its second since the departure of guitarist Andy Taylor broke up the original lineup of the British ’80s hitmakers for the second time, but it didn’t look like they’d suffered much of a blow.

They made it a point to showcase newcomer Dominic Brown by starting right off with “Hungry Like the Wolf,” giving Brown an extended slide solo in the middle section. And while Brown filled the bill as a player, he also, importantly, didn’t succumb to new-guy/hired-hand syndrome, in which the new addition slouches in the corner of the stage and hopes no one notices. Brown stalked the stage and played to the crowd like an old pro — the fact that he’s played with the band in the past probably helped. He may have occasionally tried a little too hard to fit in with the veterans, but it was better than the opposite, and once he gets some years in he’ll be fine.

The rest of the band — singer Simon LeBon, bassist John Taylor, drummer Roger Taylor and keyboardist Nick Rhodes — were in fine shape on the rollicking early material. The sonic juxtaposition of warm, disco-influenced bass, and the icy lockstep precision between the 16th-note patterns of drummer Taylor and Rhodes’ sequencer was in full effect, with Brown’s guitar providing funky accents and the occasional rock blast. This was clearest on “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “Planet Earth,” and the final encore, “Rio.” Many bands of Duran Duran’s vintage have tempo problems, huffing and puffing to try to keep up with their old material, but thanks largely to Roger Taylor they breezed through.

The latter part of the set dragged, with the power balladry of “Ordinary World” heading into the soft balladry of “Save a Prayer,” and the heavy Euro-funk of “Dance Into the Fire” (LeBon’s voice straining), “Notorious” and “Wild Boys.” Unfortunately, when they attempted funk, the subsequent reining in of John Taylor’s bass to conform with the booming bass drum of Roger Taylor rendered the final result less funky than previous. And the interlude of Sly Stone’s “I Wanna Take You Higher” in the middle of “Notorious” only underlined the problem, although “The Reflex” benefited from being freed from its dated production.

The band played two songs from 2004’s Astronaut, and while “What Happens Tomorrow,” with its chugging guitar intro, was merely pleasant enough, in “Reach Up (For the Sunrise)” they’ve found a winner that should survive in the set list well beyond this tour.

After their futuristic, slightly decadent New Romantic beginnings, it’s a little odd to see Duran Duran as earnest, hardworking veterans, dedicating songs to the troops and such. But the musical ingredients and the unique lyrical world view (someone tell me what “Union of the Snake” is about, please?) are still intact.

Courtesy Providence Journal

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