Live Review: duran duran radio ink djs rod laver arena

1 April 2012 | 8:40 am | Bryget Chrisfield

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Pumping tunes accompany our journey down the arena steps in search of seats and later research reveals that it's Radio Ink DJs (in tonight's case, DJ – singular) rather than the live band incarnation that is to set the scene for Duran Duran tonight. The dude we see dances awkwardly behind the console as he punches out hits from yonderyear, such as Eye Of The Tiger and All Night Long, and it's inadequate.

There's the vague smell of perming solution in the air as audience members in the front stalls wave enthusiastically at their mates in the cheap seats. Owen Pallet's glorious Return To Now string arrangements glimmer through the darkness as Duran Duran make their way to the stage. There's John Taylor! (Squeals.) Before The Rain follows and we immediately notice that there are two imposters with them on this tour: not just Andy Taylor's replacement (although not official member), guitarist Dom Brown, but also a saxophonist/keys player/maker of whatever sound they require. Planet Earth sounds iridescent and we jump to our feet for an enthusiastic sidestep. Frontman Simon Le Bon is singing better than ever and still owns those petulant dance moves. “Our name is Duran Duran and we're here for your pleasure,” he teases. Some of Le Bon's finishing poses are choreographed and the concentration required to hit that View To A Kill freeze – with crossed arms, double guns blazin' – makes us giggle. There are various points of hilarity throughout the night and it's pleasing to see the band are able to laugh at themselves. Keys genius Nick Rhodes (or his PA) does some homework on Melbourne and reads from a list of our hometown inventions in his best David Attenborough timbre. Segue alert: apparently the electric drill was invented here, enter Blame The Machines. Boom, boom. A front row volunteer named Chris is asked, “Can you sing?” before he's thrown into performing the opening “Da-na-na-na”s for The Reflex (“fle-fle-fle-fle-flex”). This scribe is transported across the road to what was once The Melbourne Sports & Entertainment Centre 29 years ago when Le Bon's star jump into this track led to a lifelong obsession with the band (although I was relegated to pretending drummer Roger Taylor was my fave at school, 'cause Le Bon was already 'taken' by a peer). Le Bon approaches Rhodes, who answers the various chorus inquiries, the funniest of which is his response to, “Why-y-y-y-y don't you use it?” The pretty keyboardist replies, “ Because I left it at the Countdown studios years ago”. Hilarity ensues.

Taylor summons our overhead handclaps for The Man Who Stole A Leopard and a chick in front of us panics and ceases after just one clap, fumbling inside her top in search of an AWOL chicken fillet. The onscreen live tweet feed is a bit of a fail since this demographic isn't the most tech savvy: the same few tweets keep rolling up the screen on rotation. Duran Duran's cover of White Lines is unreal, but some of the actions we're encouraged to mimic are a tad Wiggles-esque. Le Bon exercises his influence by directing our attention to the problems in Syria and warns against “news fatigue” before we're treated to a stirring Ordinary World. You'd probably be wise to slow dance with Duran Duran members these days rather than vigorously jump around on the dancefloor, but time has still been kind. Wild Boys into a snatch of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Relax back to Wild Boys is beyond inspired.

Before they launch into a very much-demanded encore, Taylor dedicates the show to Molly Meldrum. The song that accompanies a video that would have led to a lot of adolescent first-boners, Girls On Film, takes us there. “Would you like to meet the band?” Le Bon hams up. “I know I would!” The frontman introduces Rhodes thus: “…got such a pretty face man, can I come over to your place man?” – cheesy. Sassy backing vocalist Anna Ross excels all night and we wish her frocks were onsale at the merch stand. Le Bon curiously tries to pat his head and rub his stomach at the same time, fails miserably and then shrugs. We're taken to Rio, but not courtesy of The Chauffeur, which is a glaring omission in an otherwise stellar evening's entertainment. There are more bums (actually sitting) on seats at this show than at my first-ever concert across the road, but Duran Duran have still got it. Recently released Mark Ronson-produced material sits comfortably alongside their smash hits from the '80s while somehow also bringing their sound way up to speed. Here's to many more albums and world tours to promote them.  

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