Duran Duran readies Atlanta return to kick off Chastain season

Since the fall of 2015, Duran Duran has zigzagged across continents with its visually arresting tour named for its 14th studio album, “Paper Gods.”

Their shows spotlighted the Duran specialties of a taut, funky rhythm section (the unrelated John and Roger Taylor on bass and drums, respectively), the enigmatic synthesizers of Nick Rhodes and the charming goofiness and emotive vocal delivery of Simon Le Bon, and demonstrated that veteran acts can, indeed, furnish freshness and nostalgia.

Almost exactly a year ago, the “Paper Gods” tour packed Philips Arena with a combination of middle-aged women still swooning over their childhood dreamboats (and bristling at the reality of being middle-aged), dutiful spouses who finally agreed to see the reason behind the squealing, and their kids, wisely raised on a diet of “Rio,” “Seven and the Ragged Tiger,” “Notorious” and even 2010’s underrated “All You Need Is Now.”

The band, with longtime guitarist Dominic Brown (far right), played Philips Arena in April 2016. (Akili-Casundria Ramsess/Special to the AJC)

The “Paper Gods” tour recently whipped through South America for a trio of Lollapalooza dates before returning to the U.S. for three April shows — including Saturday at Chastain Park Amphitheatre — before returning for another handful this summer.

Last week, Roger Taylor chatted for a few minutes on a day off in Brazil about what fans can expect during their encore Atlanta date, the accompaniment to “Paper Gods” standout track “Pressure Off” and if the band has thought about its impending 40th anniversary.

Q: After such an extensive tour last year, why did you decide to throw in a handful of U.S. dates, and how did Atlanta wind up on the short list?

A: The original idea was to come to South America to do these three Lollapalooza festivals, and whenever we go out, we’ve got to assemble the crew, so it’s worth doing a little bit more and we decided to stay out for a few weeks. Thankfully America always welcomes us back. Atlanta is one of those places we love to play; we always get a great response there. It is a fun show and playing Atlanta is one of the highlights of the tour. (Chastain) is a beautiful venue.

Q: Having seen your tour kickoff in a theater in Durham (N.C.) last year and then the arena show at Philips, how will this show differ?

A: It’s in the middle a little bit — not quite the arena show, but we’re still using a lot of the same lighting and screens, just a little more toned down. It’s still part of the “Paper Gods” tour. We’ve been enjoying the set list, but we’ve changed it up a little bit. Kids tend to hang around the hotels here (in Brazil), and we’re hearing them say, “The show was fantastic but why didn’t you play ‘Planet Earth’?” We have a lot of songs to juggle. It’s a First World problem (laughs).

Q: Will we still see confetti during “Pressure Off”?

A: It’s become one of the highlights of the show. It’s so great to have one of the new songs become a highlight. It’s really good to have a song that you’ve recently written be so well received by fans.

Bassist John Taylor remains a fan favorite. (Akili-Casundria Ramsess/Special to the AJC)

Q: What was the most rewarding thing about doing the arena tour? I would guess it was a thrill to be back in arenas with a big stage setup.

A: It was great, actually. The popularity of the tour really took us by surprise. People love the “Paper Gods” record. I think we go into the studio really to please ourselves, and then our management listens to it and if they like it, great. And then it comes to your audience and it’s kind of the moment.

Q: You left the band more than 30 years ago because of the stress of fame (Taylor officially rejoined the band in 2001). As a naturally shy person, how do you deal with it these days with social media?

A: It’s actually a lot easier these days because our audience has matured with us. There’s an enormous amount of social media to contend with, but it’s not like having Justin Bieber’s audience. In the early days, (our fans) required a lot of our time and our presence; it’s not quite like that anymore. When I came back, it was a totally different world because those early days were like being in the eye of the storm, it really was a whirlwind of fame. When I came back, the whole thing seemed a little calmer, and the reunion really seemed to spark a lot of interest. The fans now are more likely to be checked into the hotel having a coffee than waiting for us on the sidewalks outside the hotel.

Q: It’s hard to believe that next year will be 40 years since the inception of the band. Any thoughts on a 40th anniversary tour?

A: We haven’t gotten there yet because we’re so in the moment with “Paper Gods.” Duran Duran is very much a day-at-a-time project and we don’t look too far ahead. But I’m sure as we look to the end of the year, we’ll look at the anniversary and think of something.


Duran Duran

8 p.m. April 8. $35-$85 (non-table setup, coolers and carry-ins are not allowed). Chastain Park Amphitheatre, 4469 Stella Drive N.W., Atlanta. 1-800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com.

For a review of Saturday’s Duran Duran concert, visit The Music Scene blog on AJC.com.


About the Author

Melissa Ruggieri
Melissa Ruggieri
Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Melissa Ruggieri covers music and entertainment news for Atlanta Music Scene blog on ajc.com, and she remembers...