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DURAN DURAN AT THE BUDOKAN/Rockin On Magazine

October 8th, 2017

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(Translation) 9 years since they were last here and 14 since the last time they played the Budokan, Duran Duran’s show this time at the Budokan was filled with commemorative surprises, the ultimate being Nile Rodgers opening the eventful concert.

The band’s mentor for over 30 years, not only did Rodgers bring his full band to Japan just for the Duran Duran shows, he lavished the audience with hit after hit he’s produced, everything from Madonna’s “Like A Virgin”, David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”.

The packed audience was thoroughly intoxicated by Rodger’s glorious performance. No one could have done a better job of revving up the audience for Duran Duran.

The show started off with “Paper Gods”, a clear indication the shows in Japan are indeed part of the Paper Gods Tour, showcasing their album from 2015. The setlist was the ultimate combination of old and new songs that had the audience screaming with delight. Time set aside for the crowd to properly indulge in nostalgia was mixed together with moments when old hits were given a fresh and new identity with the help of the newer songs interspersed in the set. It was a 2-hour performance that really made one realize just how full and thick their sound is.

The first half of the show seemed to showcase more of the hard and serious songs from the 80s such as “The Wild Boys,” with an industrial arrangement, the sexy soul tune “I Don’t Want Your Love” spiced up with the sax and female chorus, and “A View To A Kill” with images from the 007 Roger Moore era. They could have glided through the show by relying on the audience to sing along as they performed one nostalgic song after another from their extensive catalog of hits. But it was most likely their sense of viability, true artisan pride as an act that was still viable to this day that would not let them take the easy way out.

There was a slight technical problem when the band went into “Last Night In the City”, a disco tune from their latest album, which was rectified immediately. Simon Le Bon showed everyone what true showmanship was about as he turned the sold-out concert into one gigantic, crazed dance party together with the help of his female backing vocalists.

Simon Le Bon, clad in skinny white denim, shaking his hips and posing like nobody’s business and long-legged John Taylor lavishing smiles on everybody in his princely manner, this band is evergreen and youthful for a reason, still properly adhering to the Pop tradition of carefree flippancy. I saw it in Boy George of Culture Club last year, likewise in Rick Astley at Summer Sonic. It seems that singers that survived through and made an ultimate impact during the MTV era of the 80s have a unique universality to them.

Back in the 80s when Duran Duran was at the peak of their career as pop stars, it was “Notorious” that served as the gamechanger for the band and it was Nile Rodgers that led the group on its way to find that mix of Funk, Disco, and Jazz rhythms. Simon described the band’s relationship with Nile as “very special” and it’s true. Duran Duran might not have made it through the 80s had they not met Nile, and they may not have been performing as a band to this day were it not for him. Because of this, performing “Notorious” and “Pressure Off” from their latest album Paper Gods together was symbolic and the highlight of the Japanese tour.

There may be a slight change in the Osaka show Nile Rodgers will not be a part of but perhaps that means there are a chance songs like “The Reflex” and “Please Please Tell Me Now” that wasn’t part of the Budokan setlist may be performed.

Simon’s plea to put a stop to nuclear war, and hopes for a peaceful, safe and ordinary world led to the performance of “Ordinary World”. It’s a song that has great meaning, especially to Japan in this present day political climate. Fans were thrilled to hear a bit of “New Moon on Monday”, one of their songs from the 80s in the interlude to “(Reach Up For The) Sunrise”, a song from the 2000s. And as the flow from “Notorious” to “Pressure Off” also indicates, this Paper Gods tour brought the band’s entire career together, the power of their latest album blowing the dust away from their older songs and culminating into Modern Pop. I was terribly moved.

The second half of the show from “Hungry Like The Wolf” onwards turned into a glorious party as they hit us with hit anthem songs one right after the other. The venue was filled with the sound of the audience singing, a sight to behold when all hands up shot up into the air when they covered Grandmaster Flash’s gorgeous funk tune “White Lines”, a staple at a Duran Duran show. “Girls On Film” turned the stage into the wild 80s disco scene and a sea of cell phone lights during the encore “Save A Prayer” and “Rio”, the ultimate retrospective and school reunion kind of finale. The seamless transition and exhilaration between the new and old shows of Duran Duran was perfect and certainly made for a truly Duran Duran-ish night.

Courtesy Rockin On Magazine