It was a soggy southern California summer evening after a weeks-long record-breaking heatwave as Hurricane Kay swept across the southland. The usual Friday night traffic, made worse by the rains, made for a two-hour and 45-minute trek to the historic Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles for my teen heartthrobs, Duran Duran. As I crept my way up the 101 Freeway, with 30 minutes to show time, a local radio DJ expressed how disappointed the Duran Duran fans, stuck in the pouring rain with traffic at a standstill, must be.
While I was disappointed in the weather, I was determined more than ever to get to the Bowl!
As I finally made the hike up the hill, fans — some decked out in rain gear and others already a
little wet — packed the walkways. The energy was buzzing! I could immediately sense a little tropical storm wouldn’t stop this crowd. Kicking off the first of three sold-out evenings, GRAMMY Award-winning writer, producer and composer Niles Rodgers and his spectacular band, Chic, took to the stage. Rodgers, known for his work with Duran Duran, Daft Punk and Pharrell, Diana Ross, David Bowie, Madonna and more, brought the disco party and got the crowd up and dancing. The band, decked out in 70s sparkle, played a mix of covers like “I’m Comin’ Out”, “Upside Down”, “We Are Family” and “Let’s Dance”. Before a soulful cover of “Get Lucky”, Rodgers shared that he had written the song with Daft Punk and Pharrell while learning he had cancer. The day the song was released, he received the news that he was cancer-free, making the GRAMMY-winning hit even more special. The crowd sang and danced as the band jammed to “Le Freak” and closed the phenomenal set with “Good Times”.
The house DJ music silenced and the lights dimmed as a portrait of the late Queen Elizabeth II appeared.
A moment of silence was observed in honor of her passing the day before. As her image faded, the stage came to life in neon colors. The distinct sound of “Wild Boys” on the drums rang out as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Duran Duran took to the stage. The crowd jumped from their seats, singing along. There was something magical about dancing in the pouring rain as Simon LeBon belted out “…and your telephone been ringing while you’re dancing in the rain”, with the crowd losing their minds.
The Future Past Tour, in support of their 2021 album and in celebration of the band’s 40th anniversary, included 19 songs and covered an hour and 40 minutes of hits mixed with new selections. The band was in stellar performance mode and killed it with their ever-stylish fashion sense. LeBon’s vocals were strong and on point, with two incredible background singers. While Taylor’s bass skills shone brightly on the new song “Invisible”, Rodgers came out for some funky bass on “Notorious” and “A View to a Kill”. Nick Roads showcased his twinkling fingers on the keyboard during “Come Undone”, while Roger Taylor pounded away flawlessly at the drums all night long. Mid-set, LeBon quipped with the crowd, “You’re lucky this is just a shower. Where we come from, it’s f***ing biblical! And, horizontal. And, cold. You lucky, lucky people.”
With the rain continuing to shower the crowd, fans continued to dance and sing their hearts out to favorites like “Hungry Like the Wolf”, “Careless Memories”, “Planet Earth” and “Reflex.” The band took a moment to honor Ukraine with “Ordinary World” and rounded out their set with a crowd-pleasing cover of “While Lines” and an insane mix of “Girls on Film/Acceptable in the ’80s”.
You’d think after over two hours in a tropical storm, without a reprieve from the rain, that fans would be ready to head for the exits…
But, they weren’t! Fans, dripping wet from head to toe, shouted for an encore. Duran Duran returned to the stage, with LeBon introducing Bowie’s longtime pianist, Mark Garson, who played along for the cover of Bowie’s “Five Years” and stayed on to accompany the band for the rest of the encore. The UK-based band then took a moment to honor Queen Elizabeth, noting how England and the world are mourning her loss, asking the crowd to turn on their cell phone lights and light up the sky while dedicating “Save a Prayer”. The phenomenal evening concluded with the band’s mega-hit “Rio” with a screaming crowd and a sky full of fireworks lighting up the overcast, rainy sky behind the world-famous Hollywood Bowl.