Refugees from the 20th century, redux: Two recent concerts

There´s a reason for all the recent increase in New Wave-name dropping in here; saw two shows this month that have blown up my mind!

First one was Cyndi Lauper´s last week. I kid you not.
Sure- - who was ever expecting anything out of a Cyndi Lauper concert in 2008?- - so my expectations pretty much amounted to finding a calm spot by a wall, leaning back, and waiting for True Colors to start, something like that.

That wasn´t exactly what happened, though.

The show started, she crept onstage like a vampire, quietly and somber, looking not at the audience but down ay her own feet, and was dressed in a black puffy dress and all, plus the mandatory crazy hair. The routine lasted for a few seconds, though, because a tremendously heavy bassline kicked in, accompanied by some equally heavy drumming from the band.

What the hell, I thought, then looked around and everyone seemed just as surprised: It was a rock concert more than anything else, and did the lady deliver...!
From catchy techno dancefloor songs from her new album, which I think I´d never heard before, to all the early-1980s stuff I love (yep, she did the Goonies song as well) the band played hard but not nearly as hard as her sustaining those high-pitched chorus lines for what seemed an eternity and no one in the audience was able to follow.
Woman howled like a banshee, and how old is she? Near her 50s or something? Totally unreal...

Best parts were her stopping halfway through the show and asking the audience in the front row what they wanted to hear, and they asked for some really old, obscure songs I couldn´t even remember existed- - She said oh what the heck, talked things over with the band for a minute or so, warned the public they´d never played that one together, then blasted it out loud anyhow.
And her cover to Roy Orbinson´s I Drove All Night. I mean, I´d heard that one before on a CD or something, like a thousand years ago but I never thought she´d play it live, and she did, and almost brought down the roof on us - -at least that was what I felt when everyone started leaping on the air like frogs on methadone.

All in all... Jesus Christ, I don´t think anybody expected the lady to play and sing that hard, but she did for about an hour and a half, and we all left the concert exhilarated.

Now Duran Duran has never been my favorite band but if they´re coming to town, hey, why not? I mean, they were the quintessential 1980s pop group and pretty much created that whole MTV-slash-music video culture of twenty years ago after all.

Also they got some pretty great songs, so there I was yesterday evening.

The backdrop of the stage was this painting of a very gritty skyline in blacks, purples and dark greys, half Gotham City and half downtown São Paulo alright. So that prompted me to turn to **** even before the show started and say, Hey I have a good feeling about this one.
Once powerful searchlights fired from that very backdrop and flooded the audience in white light, I knew I was right and it sure meant we were having a good concert, but...

Well, as I learned last night, there are rockstars and popstars, and then there´s Simon Le Bon, who freaking belongs to his own category and is something else entirely.

The band started out with a good mix of recent songs and the classics, which was already enough to make everybody happy and stuff: Early on Hungry Like the Wolf was played and danced to, so why would I bother to listen to a few tunes from the new Red Carpet Massacre, which I´d never heard before? But as it turned out the new songs were amazingly cool and by the time the first hour had passed by I looked at my own shirt, drenched in sweat and crumpled, and realized I´d been dancing and jumping around and heck, cavorting to boot.
The sound was so loud, all meanings implied, and I thought I was gonna leave the show deaf but good deaf, if there´s ever such a thing, because the electric guitar was hard but clear, the drum and the bass, more than the show above, played like grenades going off, the synthesiser made it feel like 1983 all over again, and Simon Le Bon who despite the beer-belly simply wouldn´t stop moving and running around, and doing his best Batman act with his panache perfectly synchronized to lighting effects that you´d swear they brought down from Mars or something.

Then the second hour began and Duran Duran, plus the throbbing, otherwordly lighting, started to machine gun all us down with one old hit after another, non-stop, from Notorious and Wild Boys to Ordinary World and Save a Prayer, and oh so many more.

That second hour felt like Christmas morning when you´re a kid and the new bike´s coming in, like being fourteen and finally wringing out that first kiss from that impossibly gorgeous ginger-haired girl you´d been fancying since like the 6th grade, I don´t know- - A few months back I´d gone to that Echo & the Bunnymen concert, and they are one of my fave bands, so when I left the show I had enormous blisters on the soles of my feet- - but this Duran Duran concert was something into itself: The band played beyond favorite bands, beyond whichever kind of music you might like: If I compared Ian MacCuloch to a drunken messiah onstage, Simon Le Bon was like god himself in a shirt and a tie, making love to that microphone, dancing around very devil-may-care, the entire band clearly enjoying the whole thing...

Bottom line is, I´d been dancing and leaping and shouting around for two hours and that one was beyond having blisters in the soles of my feet: The music was like a drug pumping from inside my chest out into the crowd, and everyone was dancing and singing along, clapping their hands...

Best show I´ve ever been to, bar none!

- - And then, even after you thought you´d seen everything and all great songs had been played, the encore being at its ending and more than two hours had gone by... then band started with that funky metallic raindrop-like sound we´re all so familiar with from the VH1 ads, the audience almost exploded in a manic burst of clapping, then began shouting Rio in unison and- -

Simon Le Bon, who´s either the last of the kings of the pop, or the first, or both, was once quoted as saying Duran Duran being the band to listen to when the bombs start dropping, but seeing them live like, twenty-five years later and they start playing Rio like you´d never thought you´d listen to, and they´re playing it just as cool and smooth but so much heavier, so much harder, and you´re there in the audience and it feels like the sea during a storm, and you´re singing along then that first chorus hits- - It feels like when the band, the audience, the entire show, the whole world shine they´re showing what they can, and well.... Her name is Rio and she doesn´t need to understand....