BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene
For the majority of Duran Duran fans – the loyal, the diehards, the ones who dig out their “Seven and the Ragged Tiger” T-shirt and pray it still fits while still also wondering what “Seven and the Ragged Tiger” even means – experiencing the band live has been a semi-regular occurrence.
The veteran British pop stars – still lively and vital as they embrace their mid-50s – played a nearly sold-out show at Chastain Park Amphitheatre (the first of the season) Saturday night, their fifth Atlanta appearance since 2011.
The crowd, stocked mostly with those loyal diehards proudly known as Durannies, relished every moment of the band’s two hours onstage. They quickly forgave and forgot that the guys arrived almost an hour late as soon as the lights dropped, storm sounds rumbled and Simon Le Bon, John Taylor, Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor bopped out for the opening “Paper Gods,” the title track of their latest album.
Joined, as they have been for years, by guitarist Dom Brown, as well as backup singers Anna Ross and Erin Stevenson and saxophone player Simon Willescroft, Duran Duran valiantly tried to appease their generations of followers with a set list that included new (the taut insta-classic “Pressure Off,” “Only in Dreams”), the ’90s (“Ordinary World,” “Come Undone”) and the omigodaretheyreallyplaying these again?! (“Is There Something I Should Know?” and “Careless Memories”) from their earliest days as foppish New Romantics.
In a recent interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, drummer Roger Taylor joked about their “First World problem” of having too many songs to cull to form a set list that engages every fan.
But few could complain as the thundering heartbeat of “Is There Something…” paired with the liquid funk of “Notorious” and “Planet Earth” (still paying tribute to David Bowie with its lovely “Space Oddity” detour) faded out as the raw, fierce “Careless Memories” steamrolled in.
Throughout the set, the foursome looked genuinely giddy. John Taylor grinned as he picked his rich bass lines; frontman Le Bon, in neon green sneakers, engaged in his endearing herky-jerky dance moves and spins; the often stoic Rhodes, resplendent in Prince-ly purple, offered the occasional sly smile; and Roger Taylor, unassuming as ever, also beamed as he busied himself with the meaty cadences of an exhilarating “White Lines (Don’t Do It)” – which Duran Duran has completely co-opted from Grandmaster Flash – and a slightly remixed “Girls on Film,” still a master class of velvety naughtiness.
The Atlanta show marked the final date of a short run of U.S. shows the band added to its 2017 calendar, and Le Bon told the shrieking audience, “We can’t think of a better place to finish this little tour…what an incredible crowd.”
He asked fans to “waste a little battery on Duran Duran” and wave their lighted cell phones during the timeless “Save a Prayer,” before ending the show with the anticipated beach ball bonanza, “Rio.”
As devoted Durannies know, next year marks the 40th anniversary of the band’s inception. Could there be a commemorative tour in the works (and possibly a reunion with guitarist Andy Taylor)?
As the band would say, “All You Need is Now,” so…let’s get on with it, boys.