When the Orange County punk scene was winding down in the early ‘80s, the gap was filled by the new wave/new romantic movement. Influenced by David Bowie, it combined fashion and music and was made popular by Culture Club, Duran Duran, Ultravox, Soft Cell, Adam and the Ants, Japan, and many others. It seemed the more outrageous, the better.
At the time, KROQ’s Richard Blade and Rodney Bingenheimer took the reins and started promoting the bands on the air and hosting dance parties at venues such as Old World, Florentine Gardens, The Odyssey, and Nightscape. Duran Duran’s music took over.
Now, decades later in 2022, Duran is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and is still selling out venues as part of their Future Past Tour. It is no wonder why; their catalog of hits includes “Rio,” “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “Save a Prayer,” “Is There Something I Should Know,” “The Reflex,” “A View to a Kill,” “Ordinary World,” “Come Undone,” and many, many others.
For this show – one of three Duran nights at Hollywood Bowl – it was also the 100-year anniversary of the Hollywood Bowl. With Duran Duran boasting over 40 years in existence, it was nothing short of historic!
Nile Rodgers and Chic opened the show, which is amazing on its own. I know Rodgers has written and produced dozens of hits – including some for Duran Duran – but I had never seen him perform live. Man, was I in for a treat! When Rodgers and Chic hit the stage, they were a force that demanded attention! Although I admit I was also mesmerized by the lighting; it was bright and colorful, and not one performer was ever in the shadows.
But the music! Their voices were perfect and Rodgers played beautifully, flawlessly. “Everybody Dance” was one of my favorites as well as “I’m Coming Out” (the Diana Ross song). Their version of Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” was also great. “Let’s Dance” reminded me of David Bowie and how sad it is that he left us so early, but I was brought out of my melancholy by one of my favorite songs, “Le Freak.”
They closed with “Good Times/Rapper’s Delight.” Their performance was tight, all of the vocals were incredible, and I am so glad I was able to finally see this legendary act live.
The moment I – and the other 17,499 people – had been waiting for arrived! The lights went completely dark, gave way to some green crisscrossing beams, and eerie synth music began. I began to see movement in the green beams and slowly and eerily, the members of Duran Duran emerged from the shadows, into the green light.
They launched into “Wild Boys” and Roger Taylor’s drums were crisp and he smiled as he played, clearly enjoying the sound as his drums took over. As the song progressed, each band member was smiling, laughing even, really getting into it.
Up next was unarguably one of their biggest hits, “Hungry Like the Wolf,” and the crowd was ecstatic! Then the James Bond theme played and you know what came next, “A View to a Kill.”
Nile Rodgers joined them onstage for one of their songs that he produced, “Notorious.” They dedicated “Ordinary World” to the people of Ukraine as they displayed the Ukraine flag on all the screens; it was an emotional moment.
They went through so many of their hits: “Come Undone,” “Careless Memories,” “Planet Earth,” “Girls on Film,” another Rodgers track “The Reflex,” and their popular cover of “White Lines (Don’t Do It)” originally from Grandmaster Melle Mel.
As part of their three-song encore, Mike Garson, David Bowie’s piano player of 40 years, joined them onstage. It was amazing to see this legend perform alongside Duran Duran! The encore was dedicated to the United Kingdom’s longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, who had just passed away the day before.
Duran Duran played each song flawlessly, moving around, singing and laughing, and having a great time. They have grown from flashy “pretty boys” to seasoned musicians, and I loved every minute of the show.