On Stage: Duran Duran Still Hungry

Press

MTV hit the airwaves in America in 1981. Right around the same time, Duran Duran was beginning its long musical career across the ocean in Birmingham, England in 1978.

A lot has changed since then. MTV is no longer a video-driven cable channel and synth-pop no longer rules. Most of the pop bands from that era have long faded into oblivion or else occasionally mount “Reunion Tours” with one or two original members.

Duran Duran, which will be bringing its “Paper Gods Tour” to the BB&T Pavilion (1 Harbour Boulevard, Camden, New Jersey, 856-225-0163, www.livenation.com) on July 21, is different.

The band — Simon Le Bon, lead vocals; Nick Rhodes, keyboards; John Taylor, bass guitar, backing vocals; Roger Taylor, drums; Andy Taylor, guitar, backing vocals — released its eponymous debut album in 1981 and has released a new album at least once every three years since then.

Duran Duran released its 14th album “Paper Gods” last year and is now touring in support of the disc. Impressively, four of the five originals are in the current line-up with only Andy Taylor missing.

But, this has been slightly altered recently.

A little over a week ago, the band’s website released the following — “Regrettably, keyboardist Nick Rhodes will be leaving the current Duran Duran tour tomorrow for a short period of time, to return to the U.K. to attend to an urgent family matter. Standing in for Nick will be long-time friend and collaborator, artist MNDR.”

Rhodes added “I am devastated to be missing even a single date on this tour. We are having such an amazing time and the shows have been some of the most exciting of our career. I will be back as soon as I can but know, in the meantime, that I am leaving both the band and fans in great hands, with the fabulous MNDR.”

Not surprisingly, the band’s line-up went through a number of changes throughout the last 35 years with members leaving and returning.

“We did a reunion tour with the original members about 10 years ago,” said John Taylor, during a recent phone interview from Los Angeles. “Simon was in L.A. with Nick. I bumped into Simon in a department store and my wife invited him over for dinner.

“Later, I was doing a show in New York. Simon came onstage and sang with me. The crowd loved it. We had great chemistry. We got Nick on board and then worked on getting Roger and Andy back into making music again.

“We got together for a tour and it felt like a good way to keep experimenting and composing. It’s been pretty full-on since then. This is our third album in the last 10 years.”

The band still plays with youthful energy.

“It was hard to re-establish ourselves,” said Taylor. “On that reunion 10 years ago, I thought it would be magic right from the start and it wasn’t that way at all. It was like five strangers. The people we had become didn’t initially fit together.”

Eventually, everything began to mesh and Duran Duran was once again firing on all cylinders.

“One of the things that keeps us going is that we have great belief in our potential,” said Taylor. “We’re very enthused about our collaborative abilities. The strength of the new album is in the collaboration. It really is what gives the album its power.’
“Paper Gods’ was released in June 2015 on Warner Bros. Records. One of the producers on the album was Nile Rodgers, who will be sharing the bill with Duran Duran at the show in Camden.

“We hadn’t worked with Nile in awhile,” said Taylor. “It was great. And having guest artists such as Janelle Monáe come in to work with us on the album forced us to step up. When we were writing the songs, it was a very similar M.O. to what we’ve always had when we’re in the writing room. We’re like a jam band.

“I’m really excited to be coming back to Philadelphia. I’ve been on a Philly Soul binge — the O’Jays, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, MFSB, the Trampps, the Spinners. It’s all I can listen to.”

The show at the BB&T Pavilion, which also features Tokimonsta and Nile Rodger, will start at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $19.95 to $150.

Courtesy Unionville Times

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