Duran Duran teamed up with iconic director David Lynch on Wednesday to stream a live concert over YouTube. The performance was part of American Express and Vevo’s Unstaged concert series that pairs bands and directors to create live concerts to be streamed online.
Tickets for the show, which was streamed from the Mayan Theatre in Los Angeles, sold out in less than five minutes.
The concert was held one day after the release of the band’s newest album, “All You Need is Now.” This new effort was produced by Mark Ronson and has been lauded by critics and fans as a welcome nostalgic look at the band’s iconic early 1980s heyday.
The collaboration with Lynch certainly seems odd. The auteur filmmaker known for his highly coveted surreal films like “Blue Velvet” and “Mulholland Drive” is probably the last person one would think of working with Duran Duran, especially when looking at the band’s highly stylized visual flair that is forever tied to MTV’s golden age.
The concert starts with a pre-recorded message by Lynch, calling the performance “a live conjuring” and hoping for “many happy accidents” during the show. Lynch snaps his fingers and the performance begins.
The band is shown on stage, but something’s off. The colors are distorted, and the camera perspective is constantly changing. Two images begin overlaying each other on screen: the band performing on stage and close-ups of string instruments, clocks and other machinery. The overlaying images become all the more surreal and exude Lynch’s trademark style as the performance goes on.
As the concert continues, the overlaying images morph into rain-slicked car tunnels, a gloved hand hammering nails into white plywood, dancing stop-motion Barbies and a balloon made of human flesh. It made absolutely no sense, yet complimented the performance in a very odd way.
Smokescreens and constant color distortions ensconced the performance and its accompanying images. All of these elements combined into a hazy, dreamlike experience. It was a live performance that played out like a faint memory.
These visual flourishes succeeded in giving equal weight to the band’s impressive performance, while at the same time turning it into a David Lynch experience.
The band proved that they can still hold their own after three decades since their New Wave beginnings. Amazingly, lead singer Simon Le Bon’s voice has lost none of its clarity over the years. They played a healthy mix of their greatest hits like “Rio” and “Hungry Like the Wolf,” along with tracks from their just-released album.
The night included many guests performing with the group on stage. Gerard Way, frontman of My Chemical Romance, joined in on “Planet Earth,” and Beth Ditto, lead singer of The Gossip, lent her pipes to “Notorious.” Singer Kelis came on stage for “The Man Who Stole A Leopard,” a track on which she and the band collaborated for the new album.
Some fans may have found Lynch’s touches distracting, but it was a multifaceted concert experience, with the Vevo-powered YouTube page offering views of the live theater crowd from various perspectives. The page also encouraged viewers to send in photographs of themselves in face paint, which were then projected behind the band during the performance.
The entire Unstaged concert film can be found online at www.YouTube.com/DuranDuranVEVO.