Duran Duran didn’t hold back the rain
After a sweltering and stressful week, for many in Los Angeles, nothing sounded better than a Friday outdoor gig filled with throwback tracks from the good fellows from Birmingham, UK, known as Duran Duran, especially in hollywood bowl, a place that never disappoints atmospherically. Little did we know it would be as, huh, refreshing as it ended up being.
We had never seen a full musical show in a real rainstorm (beyond a few splashes anyway) before Friday’s show. We know not everyone felt that way, but thanks to a trusty windproof hoodie, we were happy as wet clams watching one of our favorite childhood bands play loud as the clouds above periodically opened up and showered us for several numbers at the right time. No less than four songs from the set mentioned rain [see below for italicized lyric refs] although their most obvious, “Hold Back the Rain” never came.
Things were dry when Nile Rodgers & Chic opened the Friday show, performing hits from their dancefloor days and Rodgers’ collaborations with Diana Ross, Sister Sledge, Daft Punk and David Bowie. Rodgers did a perfect opening act, not just because he worked with DD on “Notorious” — which he later returned to the stage with them to perform — but because the prolific producer has enjoyed a cultural resurgence these lately, first with his DiscOasis Roller Skating Events (read our cover story about it here) and last week as the opening performer of the Taylor Hawkins Tribute at Wembley Stadium, which was also broadcast worldwide.
Speaking of the world, some of Duran’s best bits are about that big, complicated sphere we all inhabit: “Ordinary World”, [came in from a rainy Thursday on the avenue]- an ethereal-style pop ballad about trying to find the comfort of normality after a breakup, and “Planet Earth”, [only came outside to watch the nightfall with the rain / I heard them making patterns rhyme]– which always felt like a subtle ode to David Bowie’s star-studded aesthetic; he clearly influenced the band as they became the most versatile and viable band in the British New Romantic and New Wave scenes.
With their multicolored hair and guy-lined glamour, Duran Duran was literally the poster boy for the androgynous 80s. The girls, in particular, couldn’t resist their beauty, catchy dance tunes and stylish videos, to the point of self-proclaimed “Duranee” obsession and devotion. So “Future Past 40th Anniversary Tour“, as they’re called, the band and their fans have clearly matured (we do admire Nick Rhodes’ still edgy haircuts and makeup at 60, though). Yet their energy hasn’t waned with age. , even during torrential downpours.
Beyond “Planet Earth”, we were very happy to hear “Friends of Mine” and “Careless Memories” from their self-titled debut album. Yes the Nagel girl covered the classic Rio is the record that most fans cherish, but we love the first LP just as much. “Memories” in particular was delivered with an urgency and vibrant visuals that made it feel fresh while remaining dramatically retro.
“Reflex” and “Wild Boys” [And your telephone’s been ringing while you’re dancing in the rain] had also accelerated the rhythms. John Taylor’s sexy bass lines, as always, did most of the heavy lifting and we loved every minute of it. Simon LaBon’s unique croon hasn’t changed much. It did slip slightly off a few times during some sustained choruses, but the richness and layers of DD’s music and the Bowl’s stellar acoustics made it all blend together beautifully, especially during the “White Lines” covers. ‘ and Bowie’s ‘Five Years’. [it was cold and it rained so I felt like an actor] which saw a surprise sit-in from pianist Mike Garson.
After the crazy weather of the week and the heartbreaking headlines (there was a brief moment and screening in honor of the Queen of England, who died the day before), and as we all struggle to enjoy the music in a post-COVID community setting, nostalgic gigs like this feel more alive than ever. The rain, which eased off for their shows the following two nights, added to the significance of Friday night. While they didn’t play gems like the gothic glider “The Chaffeur” or the sexy stomp “My Own Way,” it was an overall experience. Duran Duran not only flooded LA with the soundtrack to many of our pasts, they inspired us to enjoy a unique musical moment in the present and also have hope for the future. Days later, we’re still thinking about it and still soaking in it.
LIST OF SETTINGS
Nil Rodgers and Chic:
I want your love
I go out
The greatest dancer
We are a family
To be lucky
hungry like a wolf
See To A Kill – Bond Intro
To give everything
friends of mine
Girls/Acceptable in the 80s
Record a prayer
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