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Duran Duran At Outside Lands: Ageless Groovy Perfection

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Photo Credit: Stephanie Pistel

Duran Duran’s set at Outside Lands on Friday (August 5) was a huge milestone for me.

It marked the 50th time I’ve seen the band live.

And for a 33 year-old who saw his first Duran Duran gig when he was 12, I can tell you this: they’re always awesome.

And #50 was no exception.

With such a winning back catalog, the band can’t miss pleasing any crowd, but their new material is just as compelling and the confluence of the two is as tuneful as it is seamless.

The fact remains that while many revere the Birmingham outfit as one of the greatest New Wave/New Romantic bands of all time–which they are–they’re so much more than that. Powered by a downright peerless rhythm section that’s commandeered by John Taylor’s wicked bass playing and Roger Taylor’s thoughtful muscle behind the kit, Duran Duran have quietly become one of the greatest funk bands on the planet.

They’ve also got in Simon LeBon, one of the greatest frontmen of all time.

To say Duran Duran brought the groove at Outside Lands would be erroneous–they didn’t need to because they’re one of those bands where the groove follows them wherever they go.

Yes, they’re that good.

On a day that featured J. Cole, Foals and LCD Soundsystem, Duran Duran outplayed them all and emerged as the best act of the day.

“Rio” was dizzyingly perfect; “Hungry Like The Wolf” was breathless and lusty and given the state of our world right now, “Planet Earth” felt more relevant than ever. When it somehow morphed into David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” the night seemed like it could get no better.

Meanwhile, “Girls On Film” came with a stinging voyeuristic menace and their cover of Grandmaster Flash’s “White Lines” was filled with horny swagger.

“You deserve to have the best time of your lives,” LeBon said at one point.

I always do, sir.