Duran Duran, at the very best of times, is a poptacular live force to be reckoned with. I’ve seen them 8 or 9 times in 5 different cities. I know this fact to be true. I am -GIANT MEGA DISCLAIMER- a Duran supporter and literal card-carrying member of the VIP fan club.
Verdict for the show in Seattle (okay, Everett, WA)?
Poptacular? Yeah, totally.
LIVE FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH? Ehhhhhh, not so much.
No, Duran’s first-show-of-the North American tour had that very definite new tour smell: performances were restrained, the energy was a bit muted, opening with “Before the Rain” was too sleepy, glitches were abundant (had to laugh when the four giant weird 3D Kraftwerk-ian white heads that had the band’s own faces projected into them started acting up during “Wild Boys”, displaying Apple error messages), apologies ready (paraphrasing Simon after a kind of loose “The Reflex”: “The problem when you are a band who have been together as long as we have, is that you think you don’t have to rehearse certain songs because you’ve played them so often”), a false start, Nick taking pictures of his keyboards DURING a song, and just a really obvious feeling that it might take a couple of shows to get back in the saddle again.
Plus, Simon Le Bon’s “dance like yer dad” moves always make me chuckle. And when, by way of introducing himself, he shouted “WHO’S YOUR DADDY?/WHAT’S MY NAME?” followed by “…which makes us Duran Duran, the band guaranteed to make you orgasm”, it was, oh, a wee bit cringeworthy. I don’t want Simon Le Bon to be my daddy. And I certainly don’t want him to be my daddy while wearing a shiny blue snakeskin shirt.
But that’s Simon. And that’s kind of why we love him.
Still, the magic wasn’t quite there. And I get why. All bands clunk a bit on the first show. But when you’re expecting to cry great big happy tears of Rio? See Nigel John Taylor lunging towards the ladies, and grinning that smile? Simon bounding about as if on 80s speed?
Bit of a let down not to get it. Cos, you see, Duran shows should be quasi-religious experiences. We followed ‘em since the 80s and we pay HUGE money to be there. We buy $35 tour programs. WE HAVE HIGH EXPECTATIONS.
But but but but….butt. Let’s abandon the harsh-but-fair-tack for a second and try the here’s-where-it-was-brilliant approach.
The set and graphics display were awesome (although the military-inspired and Radio Ga-Ga imagery was weird, shit, sorry, supposed to be positive here). It was most wonderful to hear Simon’s voice strong again after his devastating throat infection earlier this year. The new songs sounded sharp, and as a long-term fan who never needs to hear “the Reflex” live again (unlike 80% of the audience who exploded only during the …”the Reflex…*le sigh*), t’was great to hear highlights “The Man Who Stole a Leopard” “Other People’s Lives” “Blame the Machines” and (finally! A relaxed and smiling John Taylor! In the encore!) “Girl Panic” from most recent (and decent) album All You Need Is Now. Yes, “Wild Boys” was a party, “Girls on Film” sounded perfect. And THAT RIFF on “Planet Earth”? Puddles. Roger looked like the cheeky chappy he always is, Nick looked sharp, and John Taylor – bless him – is just such an incomparably amazing bassist to watch perform. You know you’re getting old when you actually start watching his FINGERS as they caressed his Peavey Liberator customs.
(And as for their cover of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Relax” – yes, you read that right – wedged into “Wild Boys”, I gotta be honest. I don’t know whether I should be harsh or fair. I kinda liked it. I think?)
In other words, Duran Duran live in Everett was a good time. It just wasn’t the hair-blown-back time. And it wasn’t the Duran Duran I know they can be. Still, I love ‘em and I’ll take ‘em, always have done. John Taylor especially. Send him over? M’kay thanks! \m/
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