Photo by HelenaYoshioka.
Never mind Paper Gods, it was the weather gods who needed to be charmed on Monday night in Toronto. All day the skies seemed needlessly angry, forcing droves of Duran Duran fans to check their weather apps repeatedly. About 40 minutes before show time, Thor had his moment – the downpour was fierce and the thunder and lightning dramatic. The staff at the Budweiser stage even halted entry for a time, stranding fans who wanted nothing more than the comfort of a roof (and maybe a towel). Those inside the venue were huddled beneath whatever shelter they could find as the overhead screens told them that the weather was “severe”. No kidding.
When the skies finally calmed, the show got underway. The fans had come for a party and CHIC didn’t disappoint, starting the night off with a high-energy, feel-good set that compelled the dripping crowd to dance. The band had to cut about a third of its set, but still managed to play a slew of hits – both theirs and iconic tunes produced by Nile Rodgers for other people. No one can resist Upside Down, We Are Family, Get Lucky or Let’s Dance.
By the time Duran Duran came to the stage the crowd were riding a wave of euphoria and gratitude. From the first notes of Wild Boys, the band demonstrated its mastery at the longevity game – they look good, they sound good and they truly seem to enjoy what they do. The stage production was sleek and flashy, befitting a band that embraced visual media and practically defined the MTV era. Seeing four of the five original band members make their way through old gems (Hungry Like the Wolf, Notorious, A View to a Kill), deep cuts (Friends of Mine, Careless Memories) and new tunes (Anniversary, Tonight United) was a joy.
Likely in the interest of jamming in as many songs as they could given the late start, singer, Simon Lebon, did not offer a lot of between song banter, but he did express love for Toronto a few times. He mentioned their first show at the El Mocambo in 1981 and making the video for The Reflex at Maple Leaf Gardens. He spoke of how Canadians were among the first to embrace Duran Duran’s sound and style, paving their way to world domination for a time. Songs like Girls on Film and Planet Earth came to define an era – and those who remember that time greeted the first notes of every song like an old friend. LeBon, along with keyboardist, Nick Rhodes, bassist, John Taylor, and drummer Roger Taylor will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later this year – a well-deserved honour for a group whose core members are celebrating more that 40 years of making pop music together.
The encore was a beautiful one-two punch; first came Save a Prayer, the ultimate sing along Duran Duran tune. Cell phones lit up the venue as bodies swayed en masse. The night ended with an electric rendition of Rio. Loyal fans were floating on air, singing their hearts out – thankful that they braved the storm to see the show. It was totally worth it.