The Entertainment Centre had a reduced, curtained-off capacity, no doubt due to the lack of a sellout, yet those in attendance compensated with deafening screams and applause all night. Up first were local duo Radio Ink, who are firmly in the commercial dance pop realm, mixing songs from the likes of Survivor, Bee Gees and Daft Punk into a pretty crass techno mix. They tried hard to generate some enthusiasm, but their cheesiness even left the aging Duran Duran fans cold.
After a 30-minute delay, Duran Duran – with added percussionist/horn player and backup singer – arrived on stage to a cacophony of screaming middle-aged fans. You couldn't fault the crowd's enthusiasm, which saw the majority of the audience on their feet for the entire show, arms aloft, swaying and singing along like the starry-eyed teens they once were. The band set the template early with hit after hit interlaced with tracks from the recent album, All You Need Is Now. The title track was aired early and alongside Girl Panic! showed they can still write big, bold pop anthems. Unfortunately, some of the other new songs didn't fare so well. Safe (In The Heat Of The Moment) was a dire funk-lite cliché and The Man Who Stole The Leopard dragged along interminably, while their cover of Grandmaster & Melle Mel's White Lines (Don't Don't Do It) only deserves a mention for how truly terrible it was.
Frontman Simon Le Bon was in undeniably fine vocal form, still able to hit those high notes and though he worked the stage and crowd like a seasoned pro, his act was firmly in the mould of game show or pantomime host with double entendres, cheeky winks and some downright embarrassing dance moves that looked over-rehearsed and lacked any spontaneity. The between-song banter also sank to the level of repeatedly telling the audience how great Australia is and how their screams weren't as loud as those in Melbourne.
The hits were what everyone was there for and at their best, songs like Notorious, The Reflex, Careless Memories, Ordinary World, The Wild Boys and Hungry Like The Wolf sounded as rightfully massive and iconic. After two hours on stage, the band returned for an encore of a disappointing Girls On Film that morphed into solos and band introductions and, bizarrely, a verse and chorus of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Relax. Rio ended the night but felt like an anticlimax after all that came before. Duran Duran proved they are still an enjoyable, large-scale pop event and these days they appear to have accepted and obviously enjoy trading on their past successes.
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