Andy Sheppard, Redferns
"The name of this band is Duran Duran!" shouted frontman Simon Le Bon as his monikered band took to the stage in Austin, Texas, happily playing up their headlining status at Stubb's outdoor stage, during the opening night of this year's SXSW. Kicking off their set with 'A View to a Kill' -- from the 1985 James Bond film of the same name -- Duran Duran played like a band with something to prove. And, indeed, they did have the burden of proof to contend with. But they confronted it head on, by not only showing the kids why they're still worthy headliners, but also by showcasing new tunes that fit right in alongside their old, without skipping so much as a beat.
"This is the beginning of Duran Duran's world tour, right here at Stubb's!" Le Bon boasted, introducing the new song, 'Being Followed.' Which, itself, was followed by the greatest hit, 'Notorious.' And while the crowd only sang along to the latter, they gave equal attention to the former.
To their credit, Duran Duran avoided the dreaded "nostalgia act" label by interspersing chart-topping hits from the '80s with brand new ready-made hits from, well, right now. And given the success of bands like the Killers and Franz Ferdinand, perhaps there's no better time than now for the masters of synth-pop to return and show the young 'uns how it's done. Hence, they were as eager to show off their latest work -- such as the title track from their new album 'All You Need Is Now' (which, by the way, was co-written by Mark Ronson) -- as they were willing to indulge in, say, 'Hungry Like the Wolf,' which drew the expected roar of the crowd.
By the time they encored with their mega-hit 'Girls on Film,' it became obvious that it was a genius call to have Duran Duran down at SXSW -- not only did they get to announce their comeback, but they also got to show everyone, young and old, that they're still relevant and still worthy of a singalong. All told, they killed it. Or, as LeBon phrased it, right before leaving the stage, "That's what we do."