How many things have been in your life for 30 years?
Barely any, since most Duran Duran fans were verging on tween-hood when the band broke in all its frilly New Wave “Planet Earth” glory.
So it’s true that for most die-hard Duranies – and they are legion – their love of Simon LeBon, John Taylor, Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor is more than a phase.
Phases don’t turn grown women, many whom have passed their adoration of the band onto the next generation in their families, into hyperventilating teenyboppers at the sight of now-50-year-old men.
Phases also don’t cause many of these same women to abandon any sense of reason and drive across multiple state lines just to spend 90 minutes in the same room as their idols.
But, much like Parrotheads count down to summers with margaritas and Jimmy Buffett and Rolling Stones worshippers cross their fingers that Mick and Keith will pull it together one more time, Duranies (and yes, some of them are male, too) patiently wait for the occasional road trips by their boys – not necessarily to re-live the past, but because the band still matters to them.
The recent release of “All You Need is Now,” Duran’s 13th album and easily their most cohesive work since 1993’s “The Wedding Album,” pushed the original quartet, plus Dom Brown in guitarist Andy Taylor’s old spot, into the tour zone, mostly in small venues that have sold out in minutes (and real minutes, not Charlie Sheen minutes).
At Monday’s stop at Center Stage, which holds about 1,000, Duran Duran played an impressively solid set that was musically crisp, playfully loose and stocked with a stellar set list.
Opening with the fantastic futuristic title track from “Now,” the band continued with new material with “Being Followed,” a tense pop song featuring John Taylor’s racing bass lines that are the heartbeat of Duran Duran’s sound.
While LeBon isn’t always the most robust live singer – his voice tends to veer into whininess – on Monday, as on the band’s recent TV talk show appearances, he sounded terrific.
Whether crooning “Leave a Light On,” an aching new ballad that swells with regret and exhales with redemption, or re-enacting his video spins during a record-perfect rendition of “The Reflex,” LeBon’s voice soared. He even hit the high notes on “Ordinary World,” perhaps the band’s loveliest song, despite – or, maybe, because of – its melancholic overtones.
Funny enough, for a group that was both adored and reviled for its affinity for fashion, exotic videos and makeup, the Duran Duran of now is a well-aged rock band whose focus is strictly music.
Sure, Rhodes, the resident style buff, was noticeable for his dapper suit and omnipresent eyeliner, and John Taylor started the show wearing a jacket and tie (soon abandoned). But a mere three light towers provided all of the onstage flash and any visual distractions came not from superficial multimedia, but from LeBon, who engaged in his charming pigeon-toed prowling and artsy hand-waving throughout the 90-minute show.
And anyone scoffing at the notion of Duran Duran being considered a rock band obviously didn’t witness Monday’s muscular performance of “Notorious,” anchored by John Taylor’s dirty funk bass, and the surprise appearance of “White Lines,” the Grandmaster Flash song that the band covered years ago and performed with a vicious, searing bite.
After escalating the already inferno-level of energy in the room with the new “Girl Panic,” which sounds like classic Duran Duran with its infusion of percussion, the band tunneled back to 1981 for the rugged “Careless Memories” and, during the encore, “Girls on Film.”
In the middle of the song, LeBon incorporated some lyrics from Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face,” which snuggled into the “Girls” groove quite well – a perfect melding of classic and new.
Duran Duran has provided 30 years of memories, and clearly, the band isn’t about ready to stop creating them.
Center Stage set list
All You Need is Now
Hungry Like the Wolf
Safe (In the Heat of the Moment)
Leave a Light On
(Reach Up For The) Sunrise
A View to a Kill
Girls on Film