It’s strange to see Duran Duran churning out live videos every other album like some New Romantic version of the Dave Matthews Band, but at the same time, it makes perfect sense. They’re coming off their best reviews since 1982 with last year’s All You Need Is Now, and when the new songs are mixed in with the old ones, it would be difficult for someone unfamiliar with the band to know which songs came from which period. (They also stand to make more money from DVDs such as this now that they are their own bosses, but that is another story for another day.) The video they assembled from the Astronaut tour was very good, but with “A Diamond in the Mind,” Duran Duran are riding on momentum rather than the nostalgia that dominated the Astronaut tour, and that has to be a good feeling. It certainly looks like it feels good.
What this set means for collectors is yes, you get yet another version of “Rio,” “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “Notorious,” “The Reflex,” and all of the band’s most overplayed hits. On the plus side, you get the title track of their new album, “Blame the Machines,” and most importantly “The Man Who Stole a Leopard,” the band’s best song in decades and equipped with a rock-solid backing performance by Anna Ross (she’s a keeper, boys). Seriously, if you haven’t heard this song yet, watch the video below.
They also pull out their cover of “White Lines” and keep “(Reach Up for the) Sunrise” in rotation, resulting in a remarkably well-balanced set list, which is no easy feat for a band who had released their debut album 30 years before shooting this video.
The only gripes, really, are technical ones. Guitarist Dom Brown may get along better with the original members of Duran Duran than his predecessor, but he’s no Andy Taylor. Then again, the current incarnation of Duran Duran don’t want another Andy, but rather a guy who can play the songs and won’t complain about the band’s direction, so in that regard, he’s perfect. From a pure playing standpoint, though, he’s not, nor are Roger Taylor’s drums. Duran songs are supposed to make people want to get up and dance, but in concert, Roger’s drums sound flat as a pancake. Even the big synthetic fills in songs like “Careless Memories” come up empty. Guys, you finally got him back in the band after almost 20 years; make it worth his while.
Duran Duran has a good thing going right now, and if the bonus interview featurette is any indication, they know it. It’s admittedly been decades since the band has made two good albums back to back, but “A Diamond in the Mind” gives one the sense that they are finally going to break the curse with the next album. Here’s hoping that they retain Mark Ronson as producer for at least one more record, though ideally, he will continue to produce them until they drop.