An ordinary world? Not for Duran Duran
By ATHIMA CHANSANCHAI
The "advent of the screaming" is how Nick Rhodes remembers Duran Duran's first concert in Seattle.
"It was the first place we walked into an arena, the first arena we played in and the screaming was so loud we couldn't hear ourselves," said Rhodes, one of Duran Duran's co-founders and keyboardist, said in an interview Wednesday. "It was a revelation."
Then nicknamed the "Fab Five," the band kicked off its U.S. tour here at the Coliseum, now KeyArena, in 1984, when going to a Duran Duran concert was the equivalent of Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z all rolled into one.
They've returned to the area since then, and on Wednesday the band that defined the sound of '80s music will be here once more, in concert at the WaMu Theater, again ready to thrill those who remember them fondly from their adolescent years.
But as the band has evolved -- even finding a new home in progress on Second Life -- new fans may gravitate to the album "Red Carpet Massacre," which features collaborations with Timbaland, Nate Hills and Timberlake.
They are without Andy Taylor in this incarnation of the band, but the current four -- Rhodes, Simon LeBon, John Taylor and Roger Taylor -- are the ones who incited screams everywhere in their '80s heyday.
"We always like to try something new -- that has been very much a part of Duran Duran ethos from the beginning," said Rhodes, who admitted that their vast catalog includes some bombs. "We've definitely committed commercial suicide, because that's the sort of record we wanted to make. Trying to do things to cater to your audience -- it makes me shudder at the thought. That's like a sausage factory, not that interesting.
" 'Red Carpet Massacre' is one of my favorites that we've done for a very, very long time. Some of our fans aren't going to connect with it, but we've found a new audience with it."
To get a sense of what the band is about, no single album can sum up Duran Duran, not even the greatest hits. Rhodes recommends three albums: "Rio," "Duran Duran 2 (The Wedding Album)" -- which has "Come Undone" and "Ordinary World," the biggest hit the band has had as a single besides "The Reflex" -- and the new album.
The band is celebrating its 30th year. It began when Rhodes and John Taylor were students in Birmingham, England, in 1978.
In 1981 their first big single, "Planet Earth," propelled them beyond Birmingham's club scene. That album stayed on the charts for 118 weeks. Then, in 1982 and '83, the band exploded and caught the undivided attention of preteen girls everywhere with the videos for "Hungry Like the Wolf" and "Rio" betokening a golden era for MTV.
By the time the group came to Seattle in February 1984, they were on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and riding the high of "The Reflex" -- their first No.1 hit in the U.S. (Rhodes still won't cough up what that song is about, so the mystery continues.)
"We had no idea we'd ever end up with a large female audience that early on," he said. "We started off really as an underground cult band playing the nightclub scene. The first time we came to America in 1981, that tour was dance halls and nightclubs and then, suddenly out of nowhere, late in 1982 we toured with Blondie and MTV had started out and we came back and 'Hungry Like the Wolf' was a hit. We were confronted with a very different audience and we were a little confused."
But for Rhodes, the band is so much more than an '80s flashback.
"People always think of that as the time when we were around, but when you've been around for 30 years, it's one of the three decades," he said, even though none of the members thought they'd still be together after so long.
"I take things about 30 hours at a time, not 30 years," he said. "You can never be that presumptuous; you never know what's going to go on. But when we are together, there is definitely a chemistry that's very, very special. The more time we spend together, we also know how we each react. In a few of the bits where we break things down in the show, you see that. It's very rare to find that."
Courtesy SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER