Entertainment

Duran Duran Review, BST Hyde Park: These wild boys still have bite

In the first week in two years that the government isn’t in the mood for a sly kneel, British Summer Time is throwing the after-party of their wildest dreams. For the past two weeks, Adele, the Rolling Stones, Elton John and the Eagles have pitched their tents under the giant artificial tree growing out of the Hyde Park stage. This afternoon, Nile Rodgers opens the closing party with his usual disco-pop montage of hits written for Chic, Sister Sledge, Diana Ross, Bowie, Daft Punk and Madonna.

“Got any gas in the tank?” ask Simon Le Bon, while Duran Duran, the new romantic heartthrobs of the ’80s, round off one of the festival’s best years with a touch of premium ’80s nostalgia. As it turns out, Hyde Park has enough gas left over to single-handedly solve the cost-of-living crisis.

Duran Duran takes the stage in a variety of hot pink and yellow suits, silver pants and red jackets that make her look like a swarm of sci-fi Angry Birds, and launches into a rigorous “Wild Boys” with flame effects so copious, that those at the back probably think Le Bon spontaneously burned. What’s immediately striking is how relevant and alternative these early hits sound today. With their classic synthetic rock sound, borrowed from The Killers and Muse, and Nick Rhodes’ serene gothic synthesizer tones at the core of modern alt-pop, Duran Duran undoubtedly set their music simmering. Even if they pull “A View to a Kill” out early—Rhodes’ synth lines sound like bullets whizzing past your ear—it’s only the Bond strings and John Taylor’s slap bass that date it to 1985. Were they just a little more menacing, noir-pop tracks like “Save a Prayer,” “Union of the Snake,” and “Hungry Like the Wolf” would be ripe for rediscovery stranger things.

It’s all the more frustrating when songs like “Give It All Up” and “Tonight United” are from last year future past album – co-produced by Marc Ronson, Giorgio Moroder and Erol Alkan – attempt to hunt down contemporary dance-pop, or when they put a tongue-in-cheek chunk of Calvin Harris’ Acceptable in the Eighties on Girls on Film. At moments like this, they seem to be purposely behind the times, oblivious to the cult respect they might earn for just being themselves.

But this is not the night for cultural reinvention. Le Bon reminds us that this is “a celebration” that they are happy to lead. He invites “Honorary Member of Duran Duran” Nile Rodgers back onto the stage to lend his disco flourish to “Notorious” and “Pressure Off.” They don’t have to stray too far from their big hits to find themselves in fairly tepid waters – like the drab soul-funk ballad “Come Undone” or the chunky “Friends of Mine” that lives up to their hardcore horror undertones and classics Clips of vampires, werewolves, mummies and aliens. But these numerous hits are never too far away: “Planet Earth” (the debut single from 1981, where new wave and funk bass fatefully collided), “The Reflex” and a rousing “Ordinary World”, a song about it, “on to hold fast to our faith humanity” in front of screens covered with Ukrainian flags.

Despite the band’s well-documented struggles with addiction, a somber cover of Melle Mel’s “White Lines (Don’t Do It)” inevitably comes across as cheesy, from the ultimate yacht-pop band who have reportedly made a habit of cocaine in room service to order in the eighties. Yet it perfectly ushers in a high-energy finale to “Rio,” sending BST 2022 off with the sands of Copacabana between his toes. These wild boys still have bite.

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/reviews/duran-duran-review-bst-hyde-park-b2120258.html Duran Duran Review, BST Hyde Park: These wild boys still have bite

JOE HERNANDEZ

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