Duran Duran debuts new song from 'Danse Macabre' album, proving the wild boys still shine

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Duran Duran bopped through their 1983 hit, “Is There Something I Should Know?,” vintage magazine covers spotlighting their popularity of that era flipped across overhead screens.

“We’re not dead yet!” proclaimed one screaming quote from the band, plastered over a photo of them in all of their foppish, New Wave glory.

Forty years later, Duran Duran’s career is not only decidedly alive, but flourishing, with a new album in 2021 – “Future Past,” the impetus for this tour – and another collection of new songs, reworked classics and covers coming Oct. 27 (“Danse Macabre,” the title track performed for the first time at this Capital One Arena show).

Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon (left) and John Taylor perform in Atlanta on June 15, 2023.

At the Sept. 13 show, the original quartet of singer Simon Le Bon (still delightfully hammy), bassist John Taylor (still Twizzler-thin and effortlessly cool), drummer Roger Taylor (the quiet anchor shrouded behind his kit) and keyboardist Nick Rhodes (stately, elegant and oh-so-stoic) snaked through a career-spanning 20-song setlist with ease and taut musicianship.

The packed venue was primarily stocked with Gen X-ers who grew up with the band’s MTV dominance and forward-thinking synth-drenched pop-funk, but plenty of twentysomethings and Baby Boomers dotted the venue as well.

The dustbin of ‘80s has-beens overfloweth. Don’t dare include Duran Duran in that company.

Here are some highlights from the show, which included a rousing opening production from Nile Rodgers and Chic and an early set from Bastille.

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Duran Duran thrills longtime fans with rarely heard songs

It’s been 20 years since the eerie, shimmering “Night Boat” from the band’s 1981 self-titled debut was performed with any regularity. But Duran Duran has resurrected the underappreciated album cut as the set opener, newly varnished with a heartbeat from the Taylor rhythm section and infused with Le Bon’s dramatic vocals

Likewise the reemergence of “Friends of Mine,” which found Le Bon donning a neon green jacket to match John Taylor’s lime-hued bass, and, from 1982’s landmark “Rio” album, “Lonely in Your Nightmare,” cleverly mashed with Rick James’ “Super Freak” for a dreamscape dipped in funk. (Even Rodgers couldn’t resist standing off the side of the stage to bounce along to the groove.)

And while “Careless Memories,” an awesomely aggressive mélange of racing bass, bended guitar notes from longtime auxiliary member Dominic Brown and Le Bon’s snarling vocals about betrayal, regret and an attempt at rebirth ( "I walk out into the sun, I try to find a new day”) has popped up in live shows the past decade, its presence always adds a jolt.

Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran performs on Duran Duran’s Future Past tour in Atlanta on June 15, 2023

Duran Duran squeezes in plenty of hits

The band may no longer be wild boys – all are in their 60’s – but they’re still performing the thumping, drum-knocking hit, “The Wild Boys,” from 1984 (one of several Duran songs produced by Rodgers) with youthful vigor. Under a shower of red and yellow lighting, John Taylor alternately scampered across the stage and shared the mic with Le Bon for the shouted chorus, their joy in the moment visible.

A trove of ubiquitous radio presences dotted the set as well. “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “A View to a Kill” (still the only James Bond theme to hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100), “The Reflex,” the Chic-inspired “Notorious” and the gorgeous “Ordinary World,” coated with impressive upper range vocals from Le Bon during the song’s coda, were all either evocative or invigorating.

There also might not be a better live cover than Duran Duran’s electrifying rendition of Grandmaster Melle Mel and the Furious Five’s 1983 missive on the dangers of cocaine, “White Lines (Don’t Do It).” It’s a devastatingly potent remake that swells with John Taylor’s insinuating bass in a frenzy of white lights and attitude.

Duran Duran (from left) Roger Taylor, Nick Rhodes, Simon Le Bon and John Taylor, release their 16th album, "Danse Macabre," Oct. 27, 2023.

Duran Duran debuts a new song for Halloween

At Wednesday's show, Duran Duran debuted the title track of their 16th studio album, "Danse Macabre."

The song is powered by a vibe of impending dread, a mesmerizing cadence and rap-sung lyrics from Le Bon, who slipped on dark shades for the presentation.

"Danse Macabre," inspired by the band's 2022 Halloween show in Las Vegas, will include their versions of Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer" (with Victoria De Angelis of Måneskin), the Rolling Stones' "Paint It, Black" and Billie Eilish's "Bury a Friend" among other covers, as well as their own vintage album tracks "Night Boat" and "Secret Oktober (31st)."

A couple of familiar names also appear on the new record: Former longtime guitarist Warren Cuccurullo plays on the title track, while and former band member/guitarist Andy Taylor – whose battle with prostate cancer and his own new solo album have re-elevated his profile – adds to "Black Moonlight" with Rodgers.

Saxophonist Simon Willescroft (left) joins John Taylor of Duran Duran onstage at the band's Future Past tour in Atlanta on June 15, 2023.

Nile Rodgers and Chic offer some 'Good Times'

As the longtime guest on Duran Duran’s tour – this current leg ends Sept. 23 in Atlantic City – Rodgers’ and Chic supply a galvanizing 40 minutes of megahits.

Rodgers’, who turns 71 Sept. 19, possesses one of the most staggering resumes in music, and he, the epitome of coolness in his sparkly black pants, white beret and shades, managed to shoehorn in an admirable sampling.

As a producer and songwriter, he’s responsible for the biggest hits of Chic – “Good Times,” “Le Freak,” “I Want Your Love” – all rolled out in a nonstop blitz of glistening disco with the assistance of singers Audrey Martells and Kimberly Davis.

But Rodgers’ behind-the-scenes career as a producer and guitarist – that jangle-funk sound is truly distinctive – is where his masterpieces primarily reside.

Rodgers joked that "dance music doesn’t get any respect,” but he and the band still offered a polished string of the No. 1 hits bearing his name, including Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” and “Material Girl,” Daft Punk’s Grammy-winning “Get Lucky” and David Bowie’s brawny snare drum/bass signatures, “Modern Love” and “Let’s Dance.”

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