Legendary British synth-pop band Duran Duran heroically rolled back the years to deliver a thundering set of their most famous songs on the opening night of the much-anticipated Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival on Wednesday night.
Sounding as good, if not better than they ever did in the ’80s, the band brought their A game to the award-winning Dubai Media city Amphitheatre and drove a sell-out crowd crazy.
Thirty years on, the Birmingham outfit fronted by Simon Le Bon and accompanied by his childhood friends Nick Rhodes and John Taylor looked comfortable enough to delve into their rich catalogue and even blend Duran Duran staples with some of their explosive new music.
Cult music magazine Rolling Stone named Paper Gods, their 2015 release, as a must-hear album, and the band gave full credence to that accolade when their kicked-off the night with a thunderous rendition of the title track from their 14th studio album.
Wearing his trademark white trousers matched with a sky-blue tee shirt and jacket, the ever dapper Le Bon, who earned the reputation of being the ‘prettiest boy in rock’, due to his ridiculously good looks, tore into The Wild Boys from the 1984 release, Arena, which paved the way for the first of their mega hits, A View To a Kill, the title track from the 1985 James Bond Classic film.
Grabbing the chance to relive happy memories from his younger days, Le Bon dived straight into the romantic ballad, Come Undone, from Wedding Album (’85).
“This is for all you lovers, Dubai!” screamed Le Bon, who looks much younger than his 58 years.
It’s always a challenge for classic bands to stay relevant in an age dominated by digital media and the mass music that it throws out at today’s hip crowd, but Duran Duran showed the way forward when their debuted Pressure Off, from Paper Gods, infused with Bruno Mars monster hit Uptown Funk to the surprise of fans.
Another highlight of the 100-minute set was a brilliant version of Planet Earth, from their 1981 self-titled album, with a piece from Space Oddity, as a poignant tribute to the late David Bowie, who clearly has had a major influence on the band.
Another quintessential band classic, Ordinary World, was delivered with pride and passion by Le Bon who nailed the ballad with every word.
Duran Duran was in full flight by this time, and so were the crowd of mostly 40-somethings.
Le Bon didn’t talk much throughout the show except to say that he was glad to be headlining the Jazz Festival event thought, “we aren’t a jazz band!”
But he committed himself totally to giving his best on songs he co-wrote with Rhodes and the three Taylors — Andy, John and Roger.
His passion came shining through on an apocalyptic masterpiece, The Universe Alone, which blended brilliantly with Save A Prayer from 1982s best-selling album Rio.
Not too many bands can claim to being at the top of their game three decades after they first burst onto the scene with the New Wave revolution, but Duran Duran still pack a punch as their debuted another new medley for the adorning Dubai audience with (Reach Up for The) Sunrise (from 2004’s Astronaut) with New Moon on Monday (from 1983’s Seven and the Ragged Tiger).
After leaving the stage for a brief moment Le Bon and Co returned on stage and sent the crowd wild with the hit Rio.
What a way to end an incredible night.