Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Duran Duran concert review: Costa Mesa, Calif.

photo by Stephen Georges
A version of my review originally appeared at

On Saturday, Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon sang about wild boys, but the band’s electrifying concert at the Pacific Amphitheatre was all about the wild girls.
Female fans squealed with delight every time the front man moved across both sides of the stage or a close-up of heartthrob bassist John Taylor graced projection screens. Some even waved hand drawn signs and stuffed toys from the OC Fair’s midway around to the music. Others were decked out in totally Eighties Day-Glo fashion. 
Home Sweet Home, the fair’s 2012 theme, could easily apply to Duran’s return to SoCal, which has always been among the group’s strongest markets in America (Taylor is also a longtime resident).
Indeed, reserved seating in Costa Mesa sold out and the lawn section - only opened up for a handful of more popular shows - was quite full. Before start time, the merchandise booth did brisk business while enthusiasts scrambled to get their hands on as many items as possible.
This was the veteran British band’s first area appearance since Nokia Theatre nearly a year ago. Touring to support stellar latest studio album All You Need is Now and new, highly recommend live DVD+CD collection A Diamond in the Mind, Duran Duran didn’t make any changes to the setlist (as someone who'd seen them three times live last year, I would've preferred a major revamp). Several visuals were tweaked though.
Le Bon was in fine vocal form. The energetic seven-piece sounded excellent throughout the two-hour gig, which kicked off with an elegant “Before the Rain.” It included half of the Now album and most major Duran hits from the ‘80s, notably “A View to a Kill,” “Union of the Snake,” “Notorious” (elevated by Taylor's funky bass lines), “Save a Prayer,” “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “The Reflex." 
Dom Brown’s searing guitar solo on “Ordinary World” and his jagged riffs on the rocking requisite cover of Grandmaster Flash’s “White Lines” were especially memorable. Drummer Roger Taylor really proved his mettle on the tribal “Wild Boys,” where the lyric about “an August moon” was appropriate this evening.
When they did the seamless segue into “Relax,” the fact that Frankie Goes to Hollywood music keeps popping up in unusual places lately (like the Olympics opening ceremony) came to mind. Nick Rhodes, all smiles, anchored everything with his influential synth sounds.    
All told, it was another winning (gold medal worthy?) Duran performance. 
Duran Duran, Pacific Amphitheatre, Costa Mesa, Aug. 11, 2012
Setlist: Intro-Return to Now/Before the Rain/Planet Earth/A View to a Kill/All You Need is Now/Being Followed/The Reflex/Come Undone/Safe (In the Heat of the Moment)/Union of the Snake/Girl Panic!/The Man Who Stole a Leopard/Notorious/White Lines/Careless Memories/Ordinary World/Hungry Like the Wolf/(Reach Up For) The Sunrise/Wild Boys>Relax
Encore: Save a Prayer/Girls on Film

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