Duran Duran were very pleased to have arrived in DC for their recent performance at Capital One Arena.
“We are driving around today, and we passed this block, and I knew where we were!” Duran Duran frontman Simon LeBon told the audience. “We played our first show in Washington, DC, at a little club called The Bayou! It’s not there anymore. It’s a bummer. That was an amazing place!”
Simon recalled really enjoying the Georgetown club, telling the audience, “I thought I was Judy Garland on stage on Broadway.”
He shared the memory as one of many amazing nights the band have experienced in DC, and sure enough they added another incredible evening to the list at Capital One Arena on Sept. 13.
Every time Duran Duran visit Washington, DC, they are in high spirits, and this night was no exception. The quartet and their touring members seemed unstoppable! That first DC show at The Bayou took place on Sept. 22, 1981, and everyone who saw that show then would undoubtedly be impressed by Duran Duran’s musicality, longevity, and sheer brilliance at this date nearly 42 years later. Listen, they didn’t call the original Duran Duran lineup The Fab Five for nothing.
At Capital One Arena, Duran Duran plotted and navigated a tremendous one-of-a-kind show with big hits, deep cuts, inventive medleys, and even a world premiere live performance! Let’s break it all down.
The biggest of the hits of course were the three songs performed throughout the night from Duran Duran’s sophomore album Rio (1982), one of the most riveting and dizzying records of all time. Early in the night, Simon fed the crowd “Hungry Like the Wolf,” and in the encore the band played “Save a Prayer” and the irresistible “Rio,” oft-cited as the greatest song with perhaps the greatest music video of the modern pop age.
Watch the official music video for “Rio” by Duran Duran on YouTube:
The night kicked off with a deep cut! Duran Duran have been in a Halloween frame of mind lately, and they have been revisiting spooky themes. And so they began the night with the thrilling and very Futurist “Night Boat” from their 1981 self-titled debut album. What an amazing thing to behold! The stirring song painted a ghostly scene (and the music video has zombies! — very much in fashion these days).
Duran Duran went for another deep cut with “Lonely in Your Nightmare,” one of the deeply romantic and otherworldly songs from Rio albeit one that doesn’t get as much love as the title track! But Duran Duran mixed the song with “Super Freak” by Rick James for their “Super Lonely Freak” medley — phenomenal! During the performance, disco legend Nile Rodgers crept to the side of the stage, clearly enjoying the tune. Nile, who served an as opening act with Nile Rodgers & CHIC, is an indefatigable optimist, and he already was in a great mood but this dance mix surely put him on Cloud 9.
And to address perhaps the most memorable moment in a night of very memorable moments, Duran Duran made the live performance debut of “Danse Macabre,” the title track of their upcoming 16th studio album (scheduled for release on Oct. 27 via BMG). The album will feature covers and several originals, and it also includes performances from original Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor and ’90s-era guitarist Warren Cuccurullo.
We mentioned that Duran Duran have been in a Halloween frame of mind, and the album seems inspired in part by a Halloween show Duran Duran performed in Las Vegas in 2022, where they covered a few of its tunes like “Paint It Black” by The Rolling Stones and “Spellbound” by Siouxsie and the Banshees. (While the cover wasn’t performed this week, Simon was sporting one of his favorite PunkMasters t-shirts — with a colorful Siouxsie Sioux print — under his white suit!)
Anyway, the very full stadium was positively thrilled to hear “Danse Macabre” live for the first time ever in the world, and the band were giddy to present it. The day after the show, Duran Duran released an innovative animated video for “Danse Macabre.” The live debut was a very exciting experience!
Watch the official music video for “Danse Macabre” by Duran Duran on YouTube:
Duran Duran also played many other favorites throughout the evening. Simon sang his heart out while bassist John Taylor strutted across the stage like a star! Drummer Roger Taylor slam dunked every number with his percussive power. And synthesist Nick Rhodes remained the coolest man in the room from behind his stack of keyboards. Guitarist Dom Brown also was a welcome sight as he rocked the night away.
Together, the gents performed James Bond theme “A View to a Kill” early in the show and followed it with the funky and fantastic “Notorious.” At the midpoint, they injected fan-favorite “Friends of Mine” into the set, and followed it with “Careless Memories” and “Ordinary World,” which they dedicated to the war-torn nation of Ukraine. They also played “Planet Earth” AND “The Reflex” — what a setlist! — before closing the main set with another medley of “Girls on Film” and “Acceptable in the ’80s” by Calvin Harris.
WOW! As if all of that wasn’t show enough, did we mention that Nile Rodgers & CHIC opened the show (along with Bastille)? Oh, we did. Nile and company played CHIC staples like “Le Freak” and “I Want Your Love” but also famous tunes that Nile wrote or co-wrote like Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” and David Bowie’s “Modern Love.” Nile surely got the party started before Duran Duran took it to the next level.
The current leg of Duran Duran’s USA tour ends in about a week as they wrap it up on Atlantic City.
Here are some photos of Nile Rodgers and CHIC opening Duran Duran at Capital One Arena on Sept. 13, 2023. All pictures by Mickey McCarter.
Here are some photos of Duran Duran headlining Capital One Arena on Sept. 13, 2023. All pictures by Mickey McCarter.