Concert Review: Duran Duran Throws Two Day Bash in Palm Springs

Duran Duran at Agua Caliente Casino

What a party.

Duran Duran commenced their short 2017 Spring Tour on Friday at the most enjoyable The Show at Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage, CA (just outside Palm Springs) with sold-out back-to-back performances at the 2,000 seat venue. The Tour of the Americas, which heads south in a few weeks to central America before wrapping up the States in April, continues support for the band’s successful album Paper Gods, out a year and a half ago.

Both nights offered the same setlist (and no opening act) with an order change for a couple of songs on Night 2. Radio staples and popular singles featured prominently through the evening as both nights brought 16 songs – a few less than last year’s full tour – but it was a ball nonetheless.

You know something special is unfolding when it feels like nearly every song builds into what’s usually reserved for the climatic finale. And that’s how it was. Both nights. Two confetti showers for each set, an immaculate light show, a raucous crowd and a contagious energy that began the moment members of the band stepped on stage and didn’t let up until they left.

Is that bassist John Taylor on keyboards?

Like the 2015 and 2016 legs of the tour, Duran Duran started the evening with the title

track of the new album followed by most of their hits from the 1980s with a couple of more new songs in between. “Wild Boys” followed sending the audience into a frenzy and the Core 4 never looked back. They killed it on “A View to a Kill” which sounded so good you’d swear they lipped synced the whole thing. Afterwards on Night 1, singer Simon Le Bon, soaking in the boisterous crowd, said some of the best places they play include casinos like Agua Caliente and commented that the evening marked the beginning of a new phase of Paper Gods.

Duran Duran played “Only In Dreams” for the first time in the United States on Friday and again on Saturday. It’s a bit forgettable and a somewhat annoying song on the new album, but live it works well. Really well, actually.  It’s catchy with a great guitar groove. Also new this leg was “Is There Something I Should Know” a single track included on the Decade greatest hits album from 1989.

Missing? Oh boy. The fantastic “What Are The Chances” off Paper Gods, “(Reach Up For The) Sunrise” and “The Reflex.” No “Planet Earth,” either. Wait. Say what? Yes “The Reflex” failed to make the cut and should have at least been offered as an alternative to their cover “White Lines.” Duran Duran doesn’t need much help getting their fans standing but “Sunrise” off 2004’s Astronaut gets even the curmudgeon(ist) on their feet. Ok, check that – alternate “White Lines with “Sunrise.”

Alas, beggars can’t be choosers. Or perhaps you’re just left wanting more, more, more. Indeed, it combined a rock concert (“White Lines”), a techno show (“Last Night in the City”), 80s nostalgia (pick ‘em) and 100 percent Duran Duran rolled into a flashy club setting.

Nick Rhodes who missed a number of tour dates last summer because of an undisclosed “urgent family matter” was back behind the keyboards and Le Bon was flanked by John Taylor on bass and now long-time guitarist Dom Brown with Roger Taylor on drums. The stunning Anna Ross brought the counter vocals to Le Bon’s on “Come Undone” (wow!) while both she and fellow back-up singer Erin Stevenson helped fill the stage, kept the audience dancing and the two swapped on a handful of duet duties with Le Bon.

Duran Duran Throws a Party

This isn’t the first time Duran Duran booked this venue on their tour.  The last time they did it followed a sold-out performance at the gigantic Hollywood Bowl. The Show at Agua Caliente offers an arena stage setting inside an intimate theater giving big name acts like Duran Duran an opportunity to connect to their fans in an unprecedented and special experience. They took advantage of the moment and so did their fans.

It was 90 minutes of bliss both nights. Duran Duran looked fresh, sounded perfect and looked hungry for more.  Whether or not Le Bon meant something cryptic when commenting about a new phase for Paper Gods the band shows little signs of slowing down. Neither do their fans. Their dedicated fan base took Le Bon’s comments to heart on Night 2 when he said they better bring it if they’re to surpass the crowd from the night before. They did.

By the way, thanks Mr. Le Bon for saying nothing about the current state of political affairs in America. We attend concerts to forget about life for a while.

Certainly, Duran Duran did their job on these two nights.

Duran Duran Setlist at Agua Caliente Casino (Palm Springs)

  1. Paper Gods
  2. Wild Boys
  3. A View to a Kill
  4. Come Undone
  5. Only in Dreams
  6. Is There Something I Should Know
  7. Notorious
  8. Pressure Off
  9. Ordinary World
  10. I Don’t Want Your Love/Last Night In The City*
  11. While Lines/I Don’t Want Your Love*
  12. Last Night in the City/Hungry Like the Wolf*
  13. Hungry Like the Wolf/White Lines*
  14. Girls on Film
  15. Save a Prayer
  16. Rio

*Denotes Night 2 Setlist Change

Written By: AndrewT

Concert Review: Duran Duran Heats Up Agua Caliente Casino

Two days after selling out the 17,000 seat Hollywood Bowl, Duran Duran sold out the 2,000 seat Agua Caliente Casino on Saturday in Rancho Mirage, CA.

Yes, casino.

You know the type of place most “has-been” bands recycle on their endless tours.

But this place is different. Much different. And well worth the extra long drive into 100 degree desert heat past Palm Springs.

Sure there’s something to be said about the “iconic” Hollywood Bowl nestled in the Hollywood hills just a few blocks from the Walk of Fame and that famous Chinese Theater. But there is also something to be said about this venue anchoring one side of a slightly smoky casino just a stone’s throw from the 10 freeway.

Built in 2009 with architects brought in from Las Vegas, whoever devised the blueprints for this place left no details behind. The Show, as it’s called, is not immense and in some respects looks like a high-end lecture hall at some prestigious university. It’s got three levels and even box seats, practically layered in carpet. It’s intimate yet hardly claustrophobic. The sound – fantastic.

So perhaps it was fitting then for Duran Duran to close out the United States leg of the tour in support of their new album Paper Gods in such a personal fashion to those fans who made the trek into the hot, dusty alcove.

The setlist did not deviate from past shows, (though the order changed a bit including “The Wild Boys” moving from the main set to the encore) it was exactly the same as the one at the Washington State Fair. (The concert at the Hollywood Bowl dropped “Wild Boys” in the Main set and “Save a Prayer” from the encore because they ran out of time, only playing “Rio.”)

The performance, however, unmatched.

It was indeed a special evening from the first song, which happened to be the first song and title track off the new album which hit #10 in its first week of release stateside last month, all the way through the final song, the first song and title track off their iconic Rio.

This hits, so many of them came fast and furious. Singer Simon LeBon asked the crowd if they were hungry, and of course they were because they knew what came next. Then came one of their biggest smash hits and the best James Bond theme song ever recorded with “A View to a Kill.” Past tours featured this song as an acoustic but this time around it was ripped straight off the recording tapes.

Duran Duran played five off their new album, four of them the best songs on Paper Gods including “What Are the Chances” what should, overtime, become a definitive Duran Duran cut. LeBon takes his singing to new heights and was in fine form here. His soaring vocals through the lyrics – “So, what are the chances?/We’ll never know/If we take it for granted/A diamond explodes/What are the chances?” is something to experience live.

It was a flawless evening. They played tight, enjoyed each other and held up the same professionalism and production you’d expect from these veteran musicians to give regardless of the number in attendance. And, you know what? John Taylor is a really good bassist.

Of course, you can’t forget those awesome chords he plays on “Planet Earth” and “Rio” but through all of Duran Duran songs, his bass guitar is a showcase. He’s not simply a two-chord puncher who stands overshadowed in the background because the bass cleft helps keep the rhythm. He brings great melody, a lot more than just mindless thumping and in many respects is the glue for the arrangement of so many of Duran Duran’s songs.

When the evening ended after an hour and 45 minutes, maybe it was this venue, just a mirage, unless experienced. Or maybe it was Duran Duran performing at such a high level. Perhaps it was a little bit of both. It was an encounter.

Regardless, The Show does exist and it should be no surprise the level of talent this venue attracts. While casinos historically have been caricatures for bands in their twilight wringing out what little they have left before hanging it up, more and more artists seem to find their place there in spots around the country.

But The Show has upped the ante. It has featured such acts as Heart, Social Distortion, Chris Isaak, the Moody Blues and now Duran Duran. So maybe this little oasis in the desert will soon become a regular stomping ground for those on tour looking to rekindle their past and relive how it all first started.

Duran Duran Agua Caliente Casino Setlist

  1. Paper Gods
  2. Hungry Like the Wolf
  3. A View to a Kill
  4. The Reflex
  5. Come Undone
  6. Last Night in the City
  7. What Are the Chances
  8. Notorious
  9. Pressure Off
  10. Planet Earth
  11. Ordinary World
  12. White Lines
  13. (Reach Up for the) Sunrise
  14. Discoaphobia
  15. Too Much Information
  16. Girls on Film
  17. Save a Prayer
  18. The Wild Boys
  19. Rio

Written By: AndrewT

 

Concert Review: Duran Duran Shows They’re Still the Wild Boys

Simon LeBon and Nick Rhodes

Simon LeBon and Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran

It might be 30 years later but the girls, make that women, still have their first love.

The 80s heartthrobs gave the Pacific Northwest just one stop on their current tour in support of the new album Paper Gods (released Sept. 11) making it at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup on Wednesday tearing through a solid 19-song set full of their most popular hits and a good sampling of the latest release.

The one-time screaming teenagers have grown up and so have Duran Duran but time has yet to catch up with the artist one time known as the Fab 5. Celebrating their 14th studio album and first to land in the Top 10 in 22 years, Duran Duran got right to business showcasing the new record and opened the show with the title tract stepping on stage to some thunder and lightning, a la some strobes, before the song’s familiar opening chant began.

But it wasn’t long before the hits came as they rolled out four straight with “Hungry Like the Wolf,” a stellar version of “A View to a Kill,” the very fun “The Reflex,” and “Come Undone.” The band went back to Paper Gods with the dance tract “Last Night in the City” and the great “What Are The Chances?”

John Taylor

John Taylor

The new album is an interesting mix of classic Duran Duran with some dance heavy riff tunes but a few take a big departure from anything the band has recorded. However, the song “Paper Gods” continues much in the same vein as their last release All You Need Is Now which didn’t get tapped into at all. “Last Night in the City” indeed offers a fun beat and “What Are The Chances?” should go down as a DD classic.

The band returned to their roots with “Notorious” as Nile Rodgers, co-writer of the song and producer of several Duran Duran albums helped out on guitar and it was back to the new album with “Pressure Off” one of the strongest new songs (which features Rodgers) that’s getting some radio play and showered the front section with confetti upon its completion.

“Planet Earth” with the slick John Taylor bass line sounded as new as the previous song despite being more than three decades older. Duran Duran brought back their 1993 self-titled record also known as The Wedding Album a second, and not the last time, with “Ordinary World.” Singer Simon LeBon dedicated it the band’s fan base that’s stuck around for so many years and genuinely seemed touch by the large turnout.

Simon LeBon

Simon LeBon

“(Reach Up For The) Sunrise” the first tract off 2004’s Astronaut, the band’s first with the original five, who then reunited after nearly 20 years, featured a great guitar by the now departed Andy Taylor’s replacement, Dom Brown. “Wild Boys” kept the crowd buzzed which got killed by “Danceophobia,” the last of the new songs. No, the lads didn’t truck out Lindsey Lohan, who is a guest on the album version, but it stuck out like a sore thumb on the setlist just as it does on Paper Gods. It’s not the only one on the album either but luckily the only one played live.

Perhaps paying homage to their last Top 10 album in the charts, Duran Duran grabbed a third song off The Wedding Album with the rarely played “Too Much Information” and closed out the main set with the always played “Girls on Film.” The encore featured the cover “White Lines,” the female favorite “Save a Prayer” and finally “Rio.”

Though the treble seemed a bit high, at times too high, during most of the concert, it was a mostly flawless evening with LeBon, now 56, nailing the vocals and even taking it to new heights on “What Are The Chances.” (Check out that album version!). He’s shaved the beard and looks nowhere near 60 thanks to a boyish haircut.

The ageless Nick Rhodes, with a bevy of keyboards, delivered all those crazy electronic sounds and drummer Roger Taylor, of course, kept time. Though original guitarist Andy Taylor left 10 years ago, Brown (could he be Dexter Morgan’s brother?) has handled the axe ever since and turned it up a bit for “Girls on Film” and “Rio.”

Playing at the fairgrounds (a surprisingly big venue) is a long way from the rabid stadium sell-outs during the second British invasion, however, Duran Duran is still together and they’re far more than a touring nostalgia act. They’ve released four albums since 2004 and suddenly seem back on everyone’s radar. Paper Gods doesn’t rise to the band’s standard level of fare however it’s got some gems scattered throughout and shows these guys have more to play.

And for many they remain the wild boys of their youth.

Related: Concert Review: Duran Duran Heats Up Agua Caliente Casino

Duran Duran Washington State Fair Setlist:

  1. Paper Gods
  2. Hungry Like The Wolf
  3. A View To A Kill
  4. The Reflex
  5. Come Undone
  6. Last Night In The City
  7. What Are The Chances?
  8. Notorious
  9. Pressure Off
  10. Planet Earth
  11. Ordinary World
  12. (Reach Up For The) Sunrise
  13. The Wild Boys
  14. Danceophobia
  15. Too Much Information
  16. Girls On Film
  17. White Lines (Don’t Do It)
  18. Save A Prayer
  19. Rio

Written By: AndrewT