Duran Duran is one of the few of my favorite 80's bands that I haven't seen live. So when my sister told me they'd be playing at Marymoor Park on Independence Day weekend, it was an opportunity too good to pass up (even if you do get gouged by TicketMeister). It was particularly decent of her to go, because she's not the big Duran Duran fan that I am.
Now, for whatever reason, I was not expecting much out of the concert. Perhaps it's because Duran Duran's sound always seems so polished that I just assumed it all came from the studio.
I could not have been more wrong.
Simon Le Bon and company tore through 19 of their biggest hits in one of the best live performances I have ever seen. They over-delivered with a flawless set that gave the crowd exactly what they wanted to hear. It made me curse all the times I passed at seeing them in concert before, and has me looking forward to the next time they come to town.
Ooh... and I shot my very first video on my new iPhone! Sound is kind of blown out (I don't think the iPhone microphone expects the audio source to be so loud) but the quality is still pretty good video-wise. Unfortunately, they compress the hell out of things when you upload it to Mobile.Me or YouTube. Doesn't look too horrible if you play it small though...
All in all, a pretty fantastic weekend.
I've gone through the set-list song-by-song in an extended entry, if you're so inclined.
Night Runner. A newer track which originally featured Justin Timerblake and Timbaland. I am not a big fan of the song, and felt it added a dead spot after the momentum built by the previous two songs (YouTube Link).
Notorious. Was happy to hear that this song plays very, very well live, and got the crowd jumping after Night Runner kind of slammed on the brakes (YouTube Link).
I Don't Want Your Love. Surprised to have this one in the set, but very happy. The only thing that could have made me happier would be if they either followed this up with All She Wants Is or somehow made a melody out of the two songs together. Since they were released one-after-the-other from the album Big Thing, they just kind of go together like that in my head (YouTube Link).
Red Carpet Massacre. One of their few "hits" that I don't really care for. It's not that it's a bad song... it just doesn't seem very "Duran Duran" to me... I would have rather they put What Happens Tomorrow here instead (YouTube Link).
Election Day. Simon talked to the crowd here and told us that they like to change up their live shows from time to time to make them more interesting. Occasionally these changes will involve "dragging a skeleton out of their song wardrobe" and trying to add some "meat" to them musically so they play well at a live show. He then went on to say that this was the first time the song has been performed in front of a live audience by this band (I'm guessing that's because it's a hit for Arcadia, the Duran Duran splinter group). You would never know it, because it was absolutely fantastic (YouTube Link).
Come Undone. One of my all-time favorite Duran Duran songs. I had no idea how they would handle some of the more subtle elements, but they didn't really try. The track seemed completely rearranged for a live performance, and was great. Enough changes to make it play well, but not enough to bury the song or make it unrecognizable. Just beautifully done (YouTube Link).
The Reflex. A great live song made even better via some clever audience participation. One of those songs that actually plays better live than in a studio (YouTube Link).
The Chauffeur. Surrounded by a group of die-hard Duran Duran fans, I was the only one who was able to name this more obscure track from their catalog of songs. I don't think it went over particularly well with the crowd, as most people stopped paying attention, but it was an interesting moment for those of us who recognized it (YouTube Link).
Do You Believe in Shame? This song was dedicated to Michael Jackson. I don't know that it translated as well for a live performance than the rest but, if you listen to the lyrics, it seems a fitting tribute to Michael and was a nice break before my first big surprise of the evening (YouTube Link)...
Reach Up For The Sunrise. Of all of the bands more "modern" songs, this in one of my favorites. Before the concert I remarked to my friends that I knew we'd get all the big hits, but was hoping for some of the smaller ones too... Reach Up For The Sunrise was one of them. They did not disappoint. Was totally thrilled that they included it in the set-list, and blown away that they did such a great job with it (YouTube Link).
Ordinary World. Like Come Undone, there are some beautiful subtleties in this track that had to be rearranged to play to the cheap-seats, but they did it astoundingly well. Probably Simon's best vocal performance of the night but, considering every song was amazing, that's purely subjective... I love the song, so I'm probably biased (YouTube Link).
Hungry Like The Wolf. The first in a series of crowd-pleasing classics, the band was on fire here, and just kept ramping it up as the final songs played out (YouTube Link).
Rio. Probably their most famous song, you couldn't turn on MTV in the early 80's without seeing it there. The crowd responded appropriately (YouTube Link)
View To a Kill. ENCORE. My second surprise of the night, because it's the second of two songs on my "wish list" that they would play. But here's the thing... they didn't just come out and play the song... they built up to it with a wonderful montage of James Bond themes, then Simon crept into the track by singing the slower "reprise" versions from the View To a Kill soundtrack before building up to the single version everybody knows. An absolutely perfect arrangement of the song in every way. Wish I could buy it on iTunes (YouTube Link).
Planet Earth. ENCORE. Flawless rendition of a hallmark Duran Duran classic. I thought for sure this song would be totally "remade" for a live performance, as bands are want to do with their older hits... but, thankfully, they didn't fuck with it, and gave everybody exactly the song they were expecting to hear. So very grateful for that. Nothing pisses me off more than to go to a concert wanting to hear one of your favorite songs, only to have the band completely change it because they're bored with it (YouTube Link).
Girls on Film (Le Freak). ENCORE. Can you think of a better song to close the show? Arguably one of the best pop songs ever made, they totally killed with it, and left the audience on a high note that would guaranteed we'd be wanting more. Somehow they managed to blend the song with Chic's Le Freak so Simon could run through the band members before fading back into Girls on Film again (YouTube Link).
All-in-all you couldn't ask for more in a Duran Duran concert. It was practically a "best of" performance which gave the crowd exactly what they wanted to hear. Aside from the afore-mentioned All She Wants Is, I would only have added two of their bigger hit songs... Is There Something I Should Know? and New Moon on Monday. But it's just impossible to complain. There are so few Duran Duran songs that I wouldn't want to hear live! I'd see them again in concert tomorrow if I could!