Duran Duran Through the Eyes of David Lynch
Better start off by telling you that Duran Duran is huge in the House With One F. The wife has an immense collection of rare singles on vinyl and CD, and bassist John Taylor is referred to only as "Happy Birthday Sweetheart" after wishing her just that when they met at the Four Seasons in Austin.
Legendary film auteur David Lynch is also well represented in the house. Laura Palmer stares out of a burning half locket from a poster hung over the couch, and Wild at Heart remains in our top ten favorite films of all time.
So when we heard that Lynch would be directing a free streaming concert from the Fab Five, we had to breathe into a bag for a bit to catch our breath.
Lynch is no stranger to the world of music. He has directed music videos for Michael Jackson, Moby, and Rammstein. He has even tackled live musical performance in the past. Rocks Off still has a VCR for only two reasons. The first is that they simply will not release a Region 1 DVD of the best rock and roll movie ever, Dogs in Space. The second is because we can't afford the $300 box set that is the only way to get Lynch's Industrial Symphony #1 on DVD.
Industrial Symphony sets the bar for bizarre musical performance so high that we don't expect to see it jumped over in our lifetime. Utilizing the music of Angelo Badalamenti, the voice of Julee Cruise, dwarves, lumberjacks, and giant flayed deer people, Lynch took us through the shattered psyche of a broken-hearted women in the most hauntingly beautiful - or beautifully haunting - concert ever.
What Lynch has done with Duran Duran in the Unstaged concert series does not have that level of excellence, but is still something that any fan of either should be able to appreciate. Lynch did not direct the show, and instead choose to spontaneously layer moving images over the concert footage as it was recorded.
Many of the great Lynchian hallmarks are represented. "Rio" is seen through a haze of bright fire, and moving lights represent the bitter changes a man goes through in the lyrics of "Friends of Mine." The work is organic, off-the-cuff, and what it sometimes loses in coherence is more than made up with style.
Duran themselves put on a pretty good show, though singer Simon Le Bon continues to phone in performances that could be epic with a little more intensity. His distinctive voice has lost none of its appeal, however, and he delivers his poetic lyrics with poignancy. We will say that we were pretty ambivalent about the new album, All You need is Now, until we saw this project. After having it shown to us through the vision of David Lynch we're definitely going to have to pick up a copy. The three cuts off the album seem much more at home in the Lynch universe than in official music videos.
For those who missed the stream, the whole of the concert is available song by song on the official Duran Duran YouTube channel. That may be the most startling thing of all. Lynch is after all the director who famously refused to add chapters to his DVDs, forcing watchers to experience the work as a whole whether they wanted to or not. Personally, we think he did that just to keep people from skipping to the Naomi Watts lesbian scene in Mullholland Drive, but that's just speculation.
All in all, the Unstaged concert was a great way to reconnect with one of the best and most influential bands of the 80s, as well as see one of the greatest directors of all time try some new tricks. Hopefully, Lynch will take his renewed interest in musical performance and finally give us Industrial Symphony # 2.