Tuesday night (July 15), the original ’80s Duran Duran lineup (singer Simon Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, guitarist Andy Taylor, bassist John Taylor, and drummer Roger Taylor) celebrated their 25th anniversary by playing Los Angeles’s 450-capacity Roxy nightclub as a warm-up for their much-hyped brief U.S. reunion tour, which officially kicks off tonight at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa, California. Not only was this the group’s first Stateside performance in 18 years, but it also marked another homecoming of sorts, as the Roxy was the first American venue Duran Duran ever played back in 1981.
Although Duran Duran have never stopped recording and touring, the original lineup only recorded three studio albums together-1981’s Duran Duran, 1982’s Rio, and 1983’s Seven And The Ragged Tiger-before the departure of Andy and Roger Taylor. With the recruitment of Frank Zappa/Missing Persons guitarist Warren Cuccurullo, the band continued on as a quartet until John Taylor chose to leave in 1997, after which Le Bon, Rhodes, and Cuccurullo persevered as a trio. This year’s tour-which began July 7 in Osaka, Japan-reunites the classic Duran Duran lineup for the first time since Live Aid in 1985.
Sponsored by DKNY//JEANS and The Fader magazine, this special event became the hot ticket in town the moment it was announced last week. Not only did the show and its swanky Chateau Marmont after-party attract a wide range of celebrity fans-including Beck, Nicolas Cage, Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale, No Doubt’s Tony Kanal and Adrian Young, Christina Applegate, Jenna Elfman, Pamela and Michael Des Barres, hairstyling guru Paul Mitchell, Rush Hour movie director Brett Ratner, South Park co-creator Trey Parker, Styx’s Tommy Shaw, local nightlife fixture Rodney Bingenheimer, and Mark McGrath (who memorably spoofed Duran Duran in Sugar Ray’s “When It’s Over” video)-but it also drew a large number of diehard Duranies willing to pay upwards of $500 for a scalped ticket. (Tickets went on sale for $25 at the Roxy box office the day before the show, and sold out immediately.)
Judging from the reaction inside the packed club, these Duran devotees-wearing customized T-shirts emblazoned in rhinestones with the individual band members’ names and bearing roses and gifts for their idols-definitely felt they got their money’s worth. The moment the band, still stylish as ever in their natty black suits and multi-zippered trousers, launched their 14-song set with “Friends Of Mine,” the entire crowd was a seething, screaming, sweaty mass. No one in attendance seemed to mind that John had let his hair go gray, that Andy had put on a little weight, or that the long-missing-in-action Roger wore a hangdog expression throughout the set, as if he was less than overjoyed to return to the public eye; seeing the group perform new wave classics like “Hungry Like The Wolf,” “Planet Earth,” “Waiting For The Night Boat,” “Is There Something I Should Know,” “Wild Boys,” “Careless Memories,” “Girls On Film,” and “Rio”-as well as later-period songs that Andy and Roger were playing live for the first time, like “Come Undone,” “Ordinary World,” and “Notorious” (although, strangely, no Seven And The Ragged Tiger tracks)-made them feel like it was 1983 all over again. The audience was even warmly receptive to two new songs from Duran Duran’s upcoming reunion album (due out in 2004), the dreamy, “Ordinary World”-ish ballad “What Happens Tomorrow” and the funky uptempo number “Virus.”
Duran Duran play tonight in Costa Mesa, and on July 17 and 19 at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. In addition to their upcoming studio album, Duran Duran will release a greatest-hits double-DVD set this September.