The four British rockers delivered a powerful, energetic and surprisingly current set at the fair.
Duran Duran’s new album may be titled “Paper Gods,” but the four Brits proved they are living, breathing rock stars Wednesday at the Washington State Fair.
In a show that was powerful, energetic and surprisingly current despite the group’s long history as a New Wave band forged in the ’80s, the now 50-something rockers shared three decades of hits that have held up extremely well.
From the explosive “Last Night in the City” to a long, spirited finale of “Rio,” lead singer Simon Le Bon and his bandmates kept the crowd moving, dancing and cheering for an era of rock that has survived and thrived into the 2000s.
Sound quality and lighting at the open-air arena were comparable to what concertgoers would expect at KeyArena or the Tacoma Dome. Le Bon referred to the outdoor venue as a “room” filled with positive vibes and enthusiasm.
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“You people have been with us from the start,” he said, acknowledging the decades of fan support.
The audience responded with thundering applause and foot-stomping.
Le Bon’s vitality and solid vocals were a pleasant surprise, particularly on the wistful ballad “Ordinary World.” Other members of the core group included John Taylor on bass, Nick Rhodes on keyboards and Roger Taylor on drums.
Beginning with the title song of “Paper Gods,” the set was well-stocked with new material, with “Last Night in the City” being a standout for strong hooks and energy. Older songs included “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “The Reflex,” “Come Undone,” “The Wild Boys” and “Girls on Film.”
Midway through the main set, producer Nile Rodgers (whose own band, Chic, had opened the show) joined the group for “Notorious,” a song Duran Duran and Rodgers collaborated on in the mid-80s, and “Pressure Off.”
Rodgers led Chic in a fun-filled, almost inspirational performance that opened with “Everybody Dance” and a crowd-pleasing, hand-clapping medley of “I’m Coming Out,” “He’s the Greatest Dancer” and “We Are Family.” Vocalist Kimberly Davis added sultriness and sass.
Rodgers, sporting a white tam, dreadlocks and sunglasses, talked about his cancer diagnosis in 2010 and his recovery and return to making hits, in particular “Get Lucky” with Daft Punk and Pharrell.
Other danceable gems included “Let’s Dance,” “Le Freak” and a medley of “Good Times” and “Rapper’s Delight,” with female fans joining the group on stage for some wild dance moves.