Last night, Duran Duran kicked off Musikfest 2015 on the Sands Steel Stage in Bethlehem, PA. It was the first time in the festival’s history that a band played the main stage day early for pre-party celebrations. It was also the band’s triumphant return to the ‘Fest stage fifteen years later after selling out the old RiverPlace on the North Side of Bethlehem back in 2000. Duran Duran had some celebrating to do for their own reason – their brand new album Paper Gods drops on September 11 via Warner Bros Records. It will be their fourteenth studio effort and their first since 2010’s All You Need Is Now. Last night in the shadow of the Steel Stacks, the Paper Gods proved to be pop rock dieties.
Duran Duran were leaders of the pack during the new wave era in the 80s. Now, 34 years after their debut album hit record stores, the band is in their mid-50s and as the lights went down last night, this writer begged the question – do they still got it? The band’s influence is felt in 2015, with rock bands like Imagine Dragons, The 1975, Bastille, Walk The Moon, Foster The People all heavily drenched with pop and electronic sounds. The new wave godfathers strutted onto the stage looking alive, well and ready. They made a statement with opening number “Wild Boys” that they weren’t touring just to collect a paycheck, they fully intended to kick some ass as well.
The band proceeded to play a relatively short but solid 15-song set spanning their three-decade career. Oddly, the only track from the upcoming new album was the lead single “Pressure Off.” I thought the band would have previewed a bit more of the record, but it must be tough to fit 34 years of highlights into one set. Speaking of highlights, the band rocked out “A View to Kill,” “Ordinary World,” “The Chauffeur,” “The Reflex,” and “Come Undone.” Though the set was well-balanced, one missing gem was “Girls on Film.” The evening’s crown jewels were their mega-hit “Hungry Like The Wolf” and their seven-minute anthem “Rio” which served as the encore.
Duran Duran released their self-titled debut album in 1981. Since then, the group have sold nearly 75 million records worldwide and have garnered two Grammy Awards. In 2003, they were honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the MTV Video Music Awards. In 2004, the received the BRIT Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. The band’s new album Paper Gods is due out on September 11 via Warner Bros. Records. Musikfest continues through August 16 with performances by O.A.R., ZZ Top, 3 Doors Down, Collective Soul, Alice in Chains, and more. – by Matt Bishop