Visiting Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood these days is a bizarre experience. The mammoth entertainment and gaming property is undergoing a massive face-lift that has left much of the site a desolate landscape. Gone are Bongos, the Fort Lauderdale Improv, and Murphy’s Law Irish Pub. In their place stand, well, very little. Demolition and construction are underway for an overhaul and expansion that will feature a guitar-shaped, 800-room hotel called the Headliner, set to open in 2019.
In contrast, legendary New Wave band Duran Duran hasn’t changed a bit, a necessary constant in a volatile world.
To some people, Duran Duran might come off as old-white-people rock from the ’80s, but with the reciprocal nature of music, it’s a band for all times, especially today.
Not bothering with an opening act, the venerable New Romantic rockers arrived with simulated lighting and thunder that was truly loud and slightly startling. It set the tone for the volume of the remainder of the show, an odd fact considering Duran Duran doesn’t normally fall into the category of raucous, eardrum-busting bands.
They opened the evening with the title song off their most recent album, 2015’s Paper Gods. Though that record was great (seriously, it’s a highly recommended listen for Duran Duran fans or anyone interested in a proper pop album), they performed only a handful of its tracks, carefully sandwiched between fan favorites and monster hit singles. It showed an appreciation and respect for the band’s longtime fan base. Other veteran acts might have shoved new songs down the throats of those who wished to revisit only the glories of a rose-tinted past, but not these guys.
Some of those favorites included “The Wild Boys,” a big, booming number; “Hungry Like the Wolf,” still a pop gem 30 years later; “Notorious,” a disco hit as influential as anything the Bee Gees or Gloria Gaynor ever released; and other classics such as “Come Undone,” “Ordinary World,” “Girls on Film,” and the closer, “Rio.”
All of these vintage sounds were enhanced by distinctly late-’80s, early-’90s MTV music video graphics splashed across a screen behind the band. Meanwhile, frontman and lead vocalist Simon Le Bon paraded across the stage in an aqua-blue jacket; an equally bright blue T-shirt underneath bore the face of keyboardist Nick Rhodes. Le Bon also wore white skinny jeans and neon-green trainers. The man looked ready to race back to the era that made Duran Duran one of the world’s biggest pop bands. Though he didn’t time-travel, everything else remained nearly same as it was in the group’s heyday. Le Bon still hit the highs, the sax sizzled, and the guitar solos sawed their way through the slick keyboard synths.
Fans with tickets on the floor made the most of spending the entire concert on their feet by shuffling, swaying, and throwing their arms in the air. This year’s attendees were decidedly older than those at last year’s concert in Bayfront Park in Miami. Last night, there were plenty of middle-aged moms and dads executing dance moves sure to mortify their children.
Something their kids might have recognized, however, were all of the bombastic concert tricks of the trade. For example, at the conclusion of “Pressure Off,” hands down one of the most fun numbers, cannons showered the audience with a seemingly endless cascade of confetti.
Rock ‘n’ roll does one of two things for most bands: It can kill them outright or grant them immortality that defies the lifestyle. Duran Duran is a beneficiary of the latter. The bandmates hardly paused between songs, exhibiting energy of men half their age. After “Pressure Off,” like children playing in the snow, fans tossed heaps of confetti into the air. Later, during the band’s signature cover of Grandmaster Mellie Mel’s “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It),” ordinarily conservative people empathically sang, “Get higher, baby!” and “Freebase!” in unison. It was incomparable.
So much of the band’s sound and style has been adopted by modern indie-pop and electro-rock outfits that Duran Duran’s songs wouldn’t be out of place on the radio today. Despite the older crowd in attendance, hardly any of the show felt dated. Duran Duran will never age and never need a makeover.
Courtesy Miami New Times
Angel Melendez is an unabashed geek and a massive music nerd who happens to write words (and occasionally take photos) for Miami New Times. A graduate of Florida Atlantic University and an accomplished failure at two other universities, Angel is a lush and an insufferable know-it-all, and has way better taste in music than you. His wealth of useless knowledge concerning bands, film, and Batman is matched only by his embarrassingly large collection of Hawaiian shirts and onesies.