Home #Hwoodtimes Duran Duran Rediscovers the Joy of Music and Vitality in a Cruel...

Duran Duran Rediscovers the Joy of Music and Vitality in a Cruel World

Duran Duran
Simon Le Bon and John Taylor of Duran Duran in a Cruel World (Photo by Jo Facey)

Perhaps the cruelest aspect of a cruel world is mortality. We all get older as time passes, even rock stars, yet Duran Duran defies Father Time by celebrating the new blossoms of live music.

By John Lavitt

Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 05-14-2024

During Cruel World at the Brookside at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, the music festival’s highlight was Duran Duran’s headlining brilliance. The forever-stylish new wave group that took England and the world by storm in the 1980s was energized, overflowing with joy and vitality. Still, after 21 UK Top 20 tunes and 18 American hit singles, six Platinum-selling records, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and their 2022 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the question looming is what else do they possibly have to accomplish? Why are they still showing up and working so hard to honor their fans?

Cruel World
Duran Duran was the Cruel World 2024 Headliner

Such a silly question was answered with a resounding smile at Cruel World on Saturday, May 11, 2024, when the band took over the main stage at the show, cheekily named the Outsiders Stage by the festival’s promoters. Led by four of the five core members, including charismatic vocalist Simon Le Bon, handsome bass player John Taylor, suave keyboardist Nick Rhodes, and powerful drummer Roger Taylor, Duran Duran remains on point. Unfortunately, due to an ongoing battle with health issues, amazing guitarist Andy Taylor can no longer tour with his fellows. Still, Dom Brown filled such huge shoes admirably, doing justice to the songs that Andy Taylor helped to create.

When Duran Duran took the stage as the headliners, you would think they would jump right into one of their Top Ten Hits, starting the show with a big bang. However, the band has evolved so they do not have to begin in the same fashion every time. Instead, coming together at the drum kit, the band shared an intimate moment of unity with their fans. As the band stood in place for a moment, there was a sense that old friends were taking a breath together before jumping into it.

Duran Duran
Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, and Roger Taylor of Duran Duran

Then, rather than jumping into the obvious, the band opened with “The Chauffeur,” a deep cut from the group’s second album, RIO, synth-pop, new wave, and pop rock album that proceeded to rock the charts and the world. There is courage in starting with a deep cut because it shows how the band knows their audience isn’t going anywhere. After such a deep cut that was remastered with the rest of the album in 2009, it was an avalanche of hits for the rest of the show. From “Hungry Like A Wolf” and “A View to a Kill” to “Ordinary World” and “Danse Macabre,” every fan, both hardcore and casual, got what they wanted from a dynamic show.

Australian executive Ben Facey, formally Executive Vice-President of Republic Records NYC, now the Founder of Greatness Gathers, summed up the night perfectly. Facey said with a contagious grin, “There are only a fistful of acts that can carry a sound from their chart-topping years to new generations, consistently delivering better shows after better shows. The songs, set list, and joy radiating off Duran Duran at Cruel World rivals any music moment. They were fantastic, harnessing the energy of their audience as they rode their glorious chariot of hits throughout their set. It’s those moments in time when you get lost in the music that make such events so special to everyone, and this was one of them!”

John Taylor
John Taylor Celebrates in the Blue at Cruel World (Photo by Jo Facey)

As opposed to so many aging rock stars who seem to phone in their performances, Duran Duran remains filled with energy and power in their sixties. They also have fun experimenting with the songs and fostering new transitions. The best example of such a moment at Cruel World was when they did a mashup of their colossal hit “Girls on Film” with “Psycho Killer” by the Talking Heads. When the shift came, there was an approving roar from the excited crowd.

From the first song to the last encore, which appropriately was the band’s iconic hit “Rio,” Duran Duran lit up the festival deep into the night, sending the crowd home with big, happy smiles. The critical element in the group’s ongoing success is the joy of performance. Indeed, it is evident that these musicians love what they do and cherish the opportunity to perform for their fans. As John Taylor told the Pasadena Star-News about playing such shows, “This is a privilege. There’s a deeper level of pride in what we’re doing today.”