Last night Duran Duran brought the third leg of their
wildly successful Paper Gods tour to the BB&T Pavilion
in Camden, NJ (with special guest Nile Rodgers and Chic).
Having seen this pairing at Barclays Center in Brooklyn
in April of this year, I was ready for another great night
on the order of the performance I'd seen three months ago.
What ended up transpiring was a blockbuster performance
that far outstripped my already very high expectations.
Nile Rodgers and Chic opened the show
with their storied (and highly impressive)
brand of upbeat soul / disco / funk hybrids.
Mr. Rodgers' formidable catalog of hits (both with
Chic and other artists) delighted the crowd, injecting
a celebratory breeze through the hot, sticky summer air.
Apart from hearing both Chic classics and live
versions of Mr. Rodgers' collaborations with everyone
from Diana Ross to Daft Punk, one of the great highlights
of their nightly set is the VIP on-stage fan dance party.
Shortly after Chic's exit, it was time for Duran Duran.
Having seen them perform in arenas, outdoor pavilions
and ballrooms, I am well aware of their power as a live band.
Nothing, however, could have prepared me for what my friend
Lorie and I (each having already seen shows on this tour)
ended up witnessing from the dead center of the 10th row.
Building slowly, the energy was higher than any other
Duran Duran show I've seen. There wasn't so much a sense of
tension as there was expectation as the band opened the show.
Thundering, but clear, the band's musicianship seems
to be on an upward trajectory as the tour has progressed.
Vocally speaking, Simon sounded wonderful.
The band was on its game in every way (and knew it).
One of the more touching moments of the night
(and there were many) was watching Simon Le Bon
welcome Nile Rodgers to the stage. He spoke of their
collaborations on several tracks (past and present) and
further galvanized the celebratory tone of the evening.
New tracks from the band's latest album Paper Gods
fit seamlessly into a set full of three decades of hits.
"Pressure Off" and "Last Night In The City" sat side by
side with "The Reflex", "Notorious" and "View To A Kill".
As they have on each night of the tour,
Duran Duran took time out to pay tribute
to David Bowie by performing a mashup of
"Planet Earth" and "Space Oddity" which flowed
more seamlessly tonight than at their April NYC show.
Though the setlist was packed with DD's
upbeat dance tracks, the brief injections of
mid-tempo tracks and ballad, like the soaring
"Ordinary World", didn't deflate the energy of
the evening. They merely provided breathing room.
During a brief speech where Simon urged the
crowd not to despairin light of recent events in Nice,
Paris, Orlando and Dallas, he reminded us that "music is a
force for good". He also asked the crowd to be lights in the
darkness... something they literally did with their phones
aloft during the now-classic ballad "Save A Prayer".
On this the band were joined by a chorus of thousands.
Bonus: I ended up taking away a Duran Duran souvenir
that wasn't for sale at the merchandise tables: A "Rio" beachball.
Many of these were being bounced throughout the crowd and I
was unable to catch one. However, a nice gentleman seated in front
of us by the name of Trevor heard me say that I wanted to keep one and
captured one for me as the show came to a rousing close. Thanks, Trevor!
Many, many thanks to my friend Lorie for treating me to a
great show, a great day and evening of travel and conversation
and a long-standing friendship. Getting to share an event like this
with someone truly special makes the good times totally priceless.