Duran Duran• w/ Nile Rodgers & Chic• and Bastille• June 3, 2023• Vivint Arena
Reviewed and Photographed by Kevin Rolfe
The last time Duran Duran made a tour stop in Utah was way back in 2005. So to say anticipation for this concert was high is an understatement. Duran Duran has a huge fanbase here so it was a little surprising that they haven’t played here more often. When I saw this show announced I knew it would be one I had to attend. The only other time I have seen Duran Duran was at the KROQ Inland Invasion back in 2003. It was a billion degrees and a really long day. So I was excited to be seeing Duran Duran headlining their own show. Interestingly enough, they would coheadline with The Cure. The Cure would be playing Vivint Arena the following night. A show I would also be attending. These groups could not be more different and yet they’re somehow tied together for me.
The New Romantic era legends brought their Future Past 40th Anniversary Tour to (not for much longer) Vivint Arena on Saturday, June 3. So not only did we get these icons back in our state, we got them for a Saturday night gig. Things were looking good for this concert. Duran Duran didn’t come alone. They brought some heavy hitters with them. They were joined on the bill by Nile Rodgers & Chic and Bastille. There was not a minute to be missed from this concert.
Bastille are headliners in their own right. I mean they’ve headlined here in Utah a number of times. We’ve here at UCR have seen them at the UCCU Center in Orem and at The Complex in downtown Salt Lake City. They put on a really fun high-energy show. So to see them open the entire evening showed how rich the talent was in this lineup. There are a few eras in between Duran Duran and Bastille so it was fun to watch Duran Duran fans, while less familiar, recognize songs as they were performed and get into the music standing side by side with people who were most definitely at this show for Bastille. The band came out with high energy and started the show off with one of their best songs, “Good Grief”. Many of those who had arrived in time were already up and dancing.
I thought it was funny, the man sitting next to me kept saying before Bastille took the stage, “I don’t really like Bastille. I hope they don’t play too long.”. But as Bastille’s set went along he would say, “Ok, well this song isn’t bad.” as he was singing every word. He stood up and danced and sang along to “Happier”, “Of the Night” along with others. By the end of the set I looked over to him and asked, “Are you sure you don’t like them? Because you seemed to really enjoy that.”. He sheepishly followed with, “I guess maybe I do like them after all.”. I’m glad he was able to admit it because he is definitely a fan.
I thought the addition of vocalist Senab was a nice touch to the show. Her vocals mixed with Dan Smith’s voice made for a great sound. Not to mention their energy filling up the stage. Bastill’s set ended with the popular, “Pompeii”. At this point, Vivint Arena had mostly filled. When the song officially began there was an uptick in energy from the crowd. Many of them just settling in but not wanting to miss getting into this song. I looked around as families quickly set their merch down on their seats so they could be up dancing. It’s a great hit, and a really fun song to see performed live. I’m excited to have Bastille back in Utah soon as a headliner.
Nile Rodgers & Chic
Speaking of hits. This next set was riddled with them. If you’re unfamiliar with Nile Rodges, I promise you that you’re familiar with the music he has written and produced. He’s a member of the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, a six-time Grammy winner, and his songs have sold in the 500 million dollar range. He’s even recorded w/ Duran Duran. He has had an impressive career and I was really excited to see him.
Before Nile Rodgers became known for his prominent songwriting, he was known as a founding member of the band Chic. So this show started with a handful of well-known Chic songs. “Le Freak” ring any bells? People immediately stood up. I looked back and the entire floor of Vivint Arena was up and dancing. It looked like the headliners were on stage. “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)” and “I Want Your Love” got people really moving. I must admit it was difficult to take pictures for this one. I just wanted to join the crowd and dance with everyone. It was such a fun vibe.
The hits were just starting. Nile Rodgers then performed songs he has written/co-written for other artists. And these were just the #1’s! He performed, “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross, “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge, “Like a Virgin” and “Material Girl” by Madonna, “Modern Love” and “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie, “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk and much more! Hit after hit after hit! It was crazy to see what Nile Rodgers has written. Kimberly Davis
Audrey Martells did an amazing job on vocals. The set ended with a mashup of Chic’s “Good Times” and “Rappers Delight” from The Sugarhill Gang. It was a fast-paced, high-energy set that I don’t think the audience was prepared for. Duran Duran was so smart in selecting Nile Rodgers and Chic to join them. This crowd was primed and ready for more.
I don’t consider myself to be someone who is generally star struck. Don’t get me wrong there are always exceptions to that. But I’ve been fortunate enough to take photos and review some really great bands and artists. And for the most part, I’m caught up in the job of taking the photos. But I was unexpectedly star-struck by Duran Duran. I grew up in the 80s. I’m an MTV kid. I remember when their videos came out and how blown away everyone was at the time. Duran Duran was ahead of the curve on videos back then.
Anyone from that era can for sure visualize the “Rio”, “Hungry Like the Wolf” or “Is There Something I Should Know?” videos. So to be standing there, in the photo pit as the lights go out as four Duran Duran silhouettes appeared was a start-striking experience. The four original members of Duran Duran took their places as lead singer, Simon Le Bon remained silhouetted looking out to the crowd as they roared to welcome this iconic band back to Utah.
I usually wear earplugs to all of the shows I attend (I’d be deaf by now otherwise). But in all the excitement one of them fell out. Forever lost in the Vivint Arena photo pit. To hear the crowd at its actual volume was mind-blowing. It was like a wave of sound crashing right before me. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that sound. What must it be like to have an audience go ballistic for you like that?
It didn’t take long until the Duran Duran hits started flowing. This was the Future Past Tour. Future Past is Duran Duran’s most recent album. They only played two songs from that album. The rest were from their vast back catalog. “Wild Boys” was the second song of the night! Followed by “Hungry Like the Wolf”! I could hear bassist John Taylor yelling without the microphone to the crowd, getting them hyped up. As if they needed to be more rabid than they were. I started to think, “If I can hear him, can he hear me?”.
When “Hungry Like the Wolf” was being performed, I could not hold back from singing along. I really hope they weren’t sitting backstage after the show saying, “What was up with that photographer singing in the pit so loud?’. I really do like that song. So if they heard me singing, that’s what they get for playing it while I was still taking photos. After the third song, I ran out of the photo pit and just kept repeating to the very kind Vivint Arena staff, “That Was Awesome!”.
The hits kept coming with, “View To A Kill” and “Notorious”. I was back in my seat and I looked at my surroundings. People who were from the early MTV generation were taken back to that time. I’ve been to shows where a band and their audience are a little more seasoned. The desire to regain that energy is there, but they don’t quite succeed in getting there. That was not the case with this Duran Duran concert. People who I might have prejudged were totally going for it.
One woman in particular was dancing at full speed for the entire two hour set. It was impressive. I tried this exercise where I would pick one section or one row of the area and just watch. I’d observe that area for maybe a minute or two. In that time there was always something to see. Each row, each section of the arena had its own story to tell. The story was that each section was beyond thrilled to be at this concert.
While I did grow up with Duran Duran, my fandom came later when I was in high school in the 90s. Duran Duran made an incredible comeback with their “Wedding Album”. Simon Le Bon told us that “Everybody thought it was just over for us.” He said that they “Wrote this song and we just knew that it was magic.?” He said that over the years the song has meant different things to different people. For the band, it meant to them their ability to come back from a really low point. He then dedicated the song to the people of Ukraine. The band proceeded to perform “Ordinary World”.
I was in high school when this song came out. It was a huge hit. And a song that put Duran Duran back in the mainstream. It was awesome to hear it live along with their other hit from that album, “Come Undone” dueted with back up singer Anna Ross. (One of my personal favorite Duran Duran songs). You would think that having all those hits in the 80s would have been enough. But having these two hits in the 90s I think made them lasting legends and a continual arena act.
The crowd did not let up as Duran Duran turned towards the home stretch of the concert. “Planet Earth”, “The Reflex” and “Girls On Film” brought us to the end of the main set. I mean, come on, what a way to close out the set. Duran Duran sounded amazing. I thought Simon Le Bon’s vocals were better than I could have ever hoped for. When you see a band that’s been around for a long time, you just can’t predict how they’ll sound.
Sometimes we have to just get caught up in nostalgia and pretend the band isn’t past their glory days. I was totally impressed with their energy, musicianship, and overall quality of their performance. There wasn’t one time when I thought they had lost a step. I think that’s a huge reason why this show was so fun. We could just get lost in the music without the reminder that we’re getting old.
While the encore was easy to predict, that didn’t make it any less exciting. Le Bon having returned to the stage in a Utah Jazz t-shirt, jokingly asked if anyone didn’t know the lyrics to the next song, “Save A Prayer”. Judging by the sound of the crowd, if anyone didn’t know the words, it was impossible to tell. With phone flashlights lit, arms swayed as the arena lit up with everyone singing along. We were told that we were in fine form and maybe one of the finest audiences that Duran Duran has ever played for. No surprise that the crowd loved hearing that. The night ended with “Rio” I was so impressed with how much energy the audience still had. People were losing their minds.
I think they had been resting up all day for this moment. I always say that Utah has some of the best fans. And tonight was living proof. They were in amazing form. It was impossible to have a bad time at this concert. The crowd was awesome, and the bands killed it.
Duran Duran Setlist
The Wild Boys
Hungry Like the Wolf
A View to a Kill
GIVE IT ALL UP
Lonely in Your Nightmare/ Super Freak
Is There Something I Should Know?
Friends of Mine
White Lines (Don’t Do It)
Girls on Film/ Acceptable in the 80s
Save a Prayer