CULTURE

Revitalized by nostalgia, 80s pop sensations return

It was back in 1981 when five young musicians with fashion model looks and highly infectious pop tunes tailor-made to go with the style ignited sparks of hysteria on the international music scene. Teenage girls could not get enough of Duran Duran’s sound and style, as, over the next five years or so, the English heartthrobs delivered one delicious number after another. The quintet’s musical appeal started to fade and, by the mid-80s, Duran Duran was no longer quite as big. In the years that followed, long breaks, permanent departures by band members and various lineup reshuffles barely kept the former pop music sensation’s flame alight. But, somehow, with new releases trickling through every few years – to various degrees of success – Duran Duran’s fame remained lurking in a simmering background. Their extended absence from the forefront, fueled by the material’s lasting power, seems to have made fans – older and newer – grow fonder of this former pop music giant. In Greece, the delight was more than highlighted by the band’s performance last year. Tickets for the show, originally booked for the 5,000-capacity Lycabettus Theater in Athens, sold out so swiftly that the production’s promoter ended up transferring the production to a far larger venue. Now, about a year later, Duran Duran is returning for a second show in the Greek capital, this time at the Olympic Fencing Center in Hellenikon, southern Athens, this Sunday night. As was the case last year, the band is touring with its original lineup, which reformed in 2002 after 18 years. This latest tour has been wedged into a short break from the studio, where the quintet is recording a new album to follow 2004’s «Astronaut.» Though that album did not generate rave reviews or produce any memorable hits, Duran Duran’s coinciding tour was a remarkable commercial success. Back in their heyday, the excitement generated by these English pop idols went no further than the teenage-girl market – at least publicly. At the time, stylistic divisions in contemporary music were more rigidly imposed. No self-respecting fan of other, less pop-oriented sides dared cross over into this sugar-coated musical world. But, interestingly, things have now changed, presumably as a result of the more recent perception of dance-oriented music as a style worthy of respect. By the early 90s, not long after Duran Duran’s rise and fall, dance music was the key style in underground scenes, techno and house being obvious examples. Then, the conflicting sides all seemed to gradually merge and, for musicians, it was no longer shameful to use a big, catchy beat in music. Nowadays, it all boils down to Duran Duran having shed much of the shroud of disgrace that was once attached to the act’s fame. Local DJ Petros Floorfiller is testament to this. A former wild boy into punk and other hard-hitting rock styles, he’ll be warming up the crowd on Sunday with a pre-show set made up of his more recent (and smoother) musical preferences. A couple of decades ago, or less, this is probably something the hard-working and eclectic Greek DJ could not have imagined himself doing.