blue silver: Duran Duran rock the Palace.
Theatre, Nov. 6
in the day, the critics didn’t much care for Duran Duran.
Hell, mainstream rockers weren’t impressed—Mick and Keith
dissed a Duran show in a Rolling Stone interview. The
hair, the clothes and the fancy videos attracted disdain.
But the kids loved ’em—and, it turns out, the kids were oh-so-right.
Last night at the Palace, four of the five original Durans
dazzled a reasonable-sized house with the infectious hooks
and funky beats that ruled the radio and MTV in the 1980s.
down the gauntlet immediately with “Hungry Like the Wolf,”
and kept the quality up straight through the double-whammy
encore of “Girls On Film” and “Rio.” Frontman Simon Le Bon
donned a cap for the slinky “Chauffeur.” (The video was missed
on that one, though.) On “The Reflex,” with its great chorus,
Duran reminded the crowd why it was a No. 1 hit. “A View to
a Kill” not only reiterated the point that every Bond song
since has stunk, but made the case that it’s one of the best
Bond songs, period, right up there with “You Only Live Twice”
and “Goldfinger.” A mashup of “Notorious” and Sly Stone’s
“I Want to Take You Higher” didn’t quite work, but a brief
run through “Some Like It Hot,” originally by Duran side project
the Power Station, did. (Though many in the crowd seemed puzzled,
apparently not making the connection; that, or Le Bon sounded
so different from Robert Palmer that it confused people.)
weren’t just from the 1980s, though: When they played their
2004 adult rock/club hit “(Reach Up for the) Sunrise,” the
once-girls-now-women who make up a good part of their fan
base sang along with the same fervor they brought to “Union
of the Snake.” They also played their two ’90s comeback ballads,
the moody “Come Undone” and anthemic “Ordinary World.” Duran
Duran are very much a going concern.
sounded great; my colleague John Brodeur suggested he sounds
better than he used to. John Taylor played the hell
out of that funky bass (including that nifty line in “Rio”
lifted/adapted from Roxy Music’s “Out of the Blue”), while
Nick Rhodes pushed the effete, white-haired-synth-geek-with-laptop
thing to the hilt.
given the rap they took for the clothes, hair, and bells and
whistles in their heyday, the presentation was lean and mean.
One backup singer and one sax man were the extent of the bonus
musicians. The light wall behind them was effective, though
it would have been nice if they could’ve afforded the high-tech
version NIN toured with this summer; then we could have better
seen the heavily pixilated images. The lack of pricey eye-candy,
however, reinforced the fact that the music was damn good,
and didn’t need the flair. Duran Duran rocked.
Frost, Goatwhore, Disciples of Berkowitz
Hall, Nov. 4
I think of Celtic Frost, I think of two things: high school
and Arctic exploration. As suburban teens in 1985, we gladly
froze to death in wooded lots at 10-below, knee-deep in snow,
drinking Stroh’s from cans, slurring along to Tom G. Warrior’s
incomprehensible death grunts (“Circle of the Tyrants” pronounced
“Sirk-uh-of-ty-RUH!”). If and when sleep finally came, I dreamt
of huge hummocks of ice, taller than mountains, created by
oceanic swells that would buckle fields of it, running longer
and deeper than hatred itself. Unique, primitive and complex;
not unlike the Swiss threesome whose tragic serenades then
became a funeral hymn as my wayward vessel was snapped into
firewood. And now, after almost two decades (that’s a lot
of Stroh’s), Celtic Frost are reborn. What were the odds?
Could Frost deliver the goods? Heal our sick? Would they,
as the ever-eloquent Warrior himself inquired on his blog,
“be able again to convey the dusk of our musical processions
to the masses that have been deprived of sufficient morbidity
for so long?”
seconds into the deliberately plodding Morbid Tales
classic “Procreation of the Wicked,” 300 mutants had their
answer. Warrior, leering under a black skullcap, corpsepaint
smeared beneath the eyes, gave us his infamous, declarative
“OOH!” and the metallurgists roared into action, smoking,
thrumming, metastasizing into all our major organs. Older
classics like “Dethroned Emperor,” “The Usurper,” and “Jewel
Throne” were purposely slowed down (to chilling effect), perhaps
so that the catalogue blended better with the ambient death
marches of Monotheist, the band’s first original release
in well over 15 years. And unlike so many survivors from metal’s
salad days, they have new material that is staggering.
Over-the-top. Intrinsically diabolical. Warrior’s voice has
grown more textured and menacing with age, the prime example
“Ain Elohim,” spewed forth with bowel-purging intensity, the
cadence (“Tet . . . ra . . . gra-ma-ton/Thy wrath . . . inflame-my-passion”)
conveyed as indignantly as any hallowed ultimatum, while the
insidious “Ground” was dominated by ferocious growls beneath
hypnotizing power chords.
is none-more-black, his features pale and pointy, but when
viewed straight-on, the eyes and lips become mere slits, like
a reptile or a sloth, through which some of the most inquisitive
and imposing epithets roar. A minimalist to the extreme, the
singer-soothsayer spoke only when inquiring as to whether
we were rendered sufficiently “mor-beed,” my answer in particular
being something like, “Well, yes, in fact, especially since
I have been watching a tubby biker dry-hump his warehouse
girlfriend over these iron railings for an hour, I’m actually
quite doggedly morbid, thank you!” But it didn’t matter,
because not only was I morbid, I was simply transfixed.
Even the breakneck thrasher “Into the Crypts of Rays,” couldn’t
break the hex as bassist Martin Eric Ain (who looked more
like King Diamond than the widow-peaked phantom I remember
in my ice dreams) mocked our primitive belief systems between
the mighty “Return to the Eve” and the unexpected “Mesmerized.”
And before the over-the-top finale “Synagoga Satanae,” he
reminded us that there were, in fact, no gods and no
monsters, and having cleared that up, our Helvetic dignitaries
offered up the brooding, crunching epic even slower than on
Monotheist, which I didn’t think was humanly possible.
There was no encore, and suddenly it was cold again.
New Orleans storm troopers Goatwhore heartlessly flagellated
the mutants with some old-school black metal, spraying down
the crowd mob-hit style with belligerent blast beats, guitars
like jailhouse shivs fashioned out of old commissary lice
combs, and frightening beards that blasted from the chins
of their ranks like propane torch flames. Our own Disciples
of Berkowitz kicked off the evening with a dastardly display
of stopping power; fans of these imposing lads expected no
less. With Wasteform’s Greg Kennedy now at the helm, the band
remain just as markedly vicious, sadistic, immoral, misanthropic
and blissfully arrogant as ever, which makes me very happy
indeed. Mor-beed, even.
Avenue Armory, Nov. 4
felt like it was in fast-forward Saturday night at the Armory.
That could be because I showed up just in time to see the
bright lights flash and AFI’s Davey Havok launch himself onto
the stage like a pristine, goth-punk ballerina. It could have
been the number of young children and teens who ran around
the hall in fits, as if they were taking advantage of a substitute
teacher. Or it could just be that AFI are always in a hurry.
Their songs never last more than two or three minutes. They
accentuate their rapid-fire drumming with synthetic industrial
beats, and each of their past two albums has been crafted
with a sense of urgency that should already have launched
them into the stratosphere of pop-punk success.
only a few songs into their set, Davey Havok was lamenting
their “brief” time with the crowd. What was uttered as an
apology seemed to affect the crowd more like a threat, sending
them into overdrive during the band’s call-and-response choruses.
Not since my last Gary Numan concert have I heard a crowd
chant along with so many “Whoa oh, whoa oh!” choruses.
what seemed like a hurry, AFI, dressed in their perfectly
white outfits (Havok with suspenders), were nothing short
of perfection. Havok hit high notes one second and screamed
like a banshee the next, then whispered into his microphone,
missing notes only to let the audience fill in familiar choruses,
of which their were many. Just as Havok performed a myriad
of vocal feats the band mashed up their ever-evolving styles,
from hardcore to goth to punk, industrial, glam, and even
their most recent flirtation with new wave.
with the band’s insanely tight performance and Havok’s goth-diva
theatrics (his pirouettes and arms thrust to the sky) came
a sense of coldness, a disconnection with the crowd—like that
beautiful but inaccessible girl you never talked to in high
school. And yet, that seems to be what AFI are about these
2004 pop masterpiece, Sing the Sorrow, produced by
Butch Vig and Jerry Finn, was heralded as the album that would
create a Nirvana-like sensation around the band. And although
it had AFI loyalists screaming sellout foul, the album was
simply one of the best rock albums of the year. But though
they gave their all on that album, they were not canonized,
not inducted into the ranks of pop-punk’s greatest. Instead,
they sold a million albums (which ain’t too shabby). Their
recent follow-up, Decemberunderground, features a more
distant AFI, still grandiose, still in love with rock &
roll, but not giving themselves away as they did on Sing
Havok sang the opening lyrics to “Love Like Winter” with the
whole of the audience lifting their hands in their air and
clapping the beat behind him, it all made sense: “Warn your
warmth to turn away/Here it’s December every day/Press your
lips to the sculptures and surely you’ll stay/For of sugar
and ice, I am made.”
playing hard-to-get. But for punk-rock kids living in upstate
New York, it’s hard not to get lines like, “Here it’s
December every day.” And instead of being turned back by Havok’s
distance, they began tossing shirts, hats, and even a cell
phone on to the stage. He put on the hat, sang into the cell
phone and then returned them to the crowd. As it turns out,
AFI might just be onto something with this Queen Bitch thing.