At the peak of Duran Duran’s popularity some 40 years ago, the band enjoyed pop radio saturation and sold more than 100 million records worldwide. Duran Duran’s videos populated the heavy rotation cycle on MTV. Photographs of the British new wave band frequently graced the covers of publications around the world.
Not forgotten in the 21st century, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Duran Duran in 2022. The band continues to release new albums every few years, including six albums in the 21st century. The band’s 16th studio album, Danse Macabre, scheduled to be released on October 27, will be a Halloween-themed album with three new tracks, covers, and reconstructed versions of older Duran Duran songs.
Nevertheless, Duran Duran’s newer body of music has not regained the mainstream traction of yesteryear. The music world is fickle and politically incorrect when it comes to ageism. True, the four members of the classic-era lineup that lead the current band (vocalist Simon Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, bassist John Taylor, and drummer Roger Taylor) are in their sixties. Nevertheless, onstage at Forest Hills Stadium, the 45-year-old band was rocking like it was 1979.
After splendid sets by Bastille and Nile Rodgers & Chic, Duran Duran began its set with a large video projection of Le Bon, Rhodes, Taylor, and Taylor commandeering an aircraft, as the prerecorded instrumental “Velvet Newton” from 2021’s Future Past album played through the speakers. As the “pilots” landed and walked away from the aircraft in the fading video, the four live musicians appeared and stood still together on a platform, center stage. After a few moments absorbing the audience cheers, the four moved to their stations and launched into “Night Boat” from the debut album.
The tour’s setlist was heavily eighties-centric, giving the audience a string of familiar hits. The less popular “Night Boat” was followed with “Wild Boys,” “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “A View to a Kill,” and “Notorious.” The hits kept coming through to the encore of “Rio.”
Duran Duran built a career on videos, so cleverly-placed projections were plentiful. The prerecorded music of “The James Bond Theme” and visuals from the 007 franchise introduced “View to a Kill.” Later visuals for “Is There Something I Should Know?” documented the band’s meteoric rise via a collage of magazine covers from the 1980s. On the Halloween-themed “Danse Macabre,” the visuals placed spooky image filters on the faces of members of the audience.
The set proved to be more than a jukebox of hits, spiking the show with surprises. Newer songs included “Anniversary” and “Give It All Up” from Future Past. The band led “Lonely in Your Nightmare” into a cover of Rick James’ “Superfreak.” “Girls on Film” led into a brief cover of Calvin Harris’ “Acceptable in the ’80s.” Duran Duran also covered Melle Mel’s “White Lines.” Background singer Rachael O’Connor (a former contestant on The Voice) performed Tove Lo’s vocal portion on “Give It All Up.” The other background singer, Anna Ross, sang the female lead on “Come Undone.” For the two-song encore, Le Bon and John Taylor returned to the stage wearing the Duran Duran hockey and basketball jerseys that were sold at the merchandise booths.
Le Bon announced that Duran Duran had a time-honored relationship with New York and that one of the band’s first American performances was on Long Island. Last year, the band performed at Madison Square Garden and this year at Forest Hills Stadium. More than 40 years after Duran Duran first hit American shores, the band is still marketable as a big-draw concert attraction. Duran Duran proved to be more than a legacy band stirring up nostalgia; this was a fine, modern production.
The Wild Boys
Hungry Like the Wolf
A View to a Kill
Give It All Up
Lonely in Your Nightmare / Super Freak (aka Super Lonely Freak)
Is There Something I Should Know?
Friends of Mine
White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It) (Grandmaster Melle Mel cover)