COLUMBUS, Ohio – Duran Duran proved its durability in its extensive WonderBus Music Festival performance on Friday night, providing a fitting start to the festival experience.
The first night of the festival also featured opening acts Daisy the Great, Cannons and Tayls, but Duran Duran absolutely stole the show. The new wave icons drew the biggest crowd the Columbus music festival has seen yet.
And it happened on a new day for the holiday. In its previous editions in 2019 and 2021, WonderBus was limited to Saturdays and Sundays. This time, the Elevation Group — the organization behind Northeast Ohio’s WonderBus and WonderStruck music festival — grew the Columbus event to include a third day. (Well, really, two and a half days; after all, the Friday show didn’t start until 7 p.m.)
Before the event, a winding line of ticket holders stretched blocks away from the venue’s entrance, the lawn at CAS, with many Duran Duran T-shirts spotted in the crowd. Once inside the festival grounds, those fans gathered in front of the Music Elevates stage, largely missing Cannons’ vibey set that immediately preceded the headline spot.
Many of those fans came from out of town; Standing out in the crowd was Cleveland’s Annie Zaleski, who last year wrote a book about Duran Duran’s “Rio” album for the popular 33 ⅓ series.
Zaleski noted the band’s boundless energy on the WonderBus stage:
“Initially, the setlist was a great mix of fan favorites like ‘Hold Back the Rain’ and ‘Careless Memories,’ and of course hits like ‘Reflex’ and ‘A View To Kill,'” Zaleski said. “It was a joy great to see so many super people at the show and how much fun the band had on stage too. You could just tell they were in a really relaxed mood and really feeding off the audience.”
That energy was reciprocated based on the band’s many screaming fans, some of whom held homemade signs in the front rows of the audience.
Duran Duran fans have always found ways to show off and celebrate their favorite band. Earlier this year, they all secured the group’s top spot in the Rock Hall fan vote, beating Eminem (who came in second) by more than 250,000 votes. (Don’t worry—Eminem also ended up in the Rock Hall this year.)
Those fans have stuck with the band for good reason – even if frontman Simon Le Bon made a few jokes about the band’s history:
“Has anyone been here since 1981?” he asked the crowd Friday night, checking to see who had followed the band the longest. Then, he laughed, “Liars!”
At this outdoor festival show, set decades after the band’s heyday, Duran Duran sounded and sounded as tight as ever, with Le Bon moving swiftly around the stage, ripping solos from bassist John Taylor and guitarist Dominic Brown, strong performances from keyboardist Nick Rhodes and on-point beats from drummer Roger Taylor. Occasional saxophone parts and background vocals made things even weirder.
Mega-hits like “Rio” and “Hungry Like the Wolf” got thousands of audience members moving, while an impassioned performance of “Ordinary World” was dedicated to Ukrainian citizens.
The band’s newer songs were also well received, including two tracks – “Invisible” and “Give It All Up” – from its 2021 album Future Past.
Sure, the band entered the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame based on past successes, but this is a band that has continued to put out strong releases and put on solid shows in the 40-plus years since it first formed.
Clearly, based on his massive WonderBus performance, Duran Duran still stands.
WonderBus continues on Saturday, August 27 and Sunday, August 28. Single-day tickets remain available, starting at $70, at wonderbusfest.com/tickets.
Read more: What you need to know before going to the WonderBus music festival in Columbus
Check out more photos from WonderBus’ first day in the gallery at the top of the article.
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