Duran Duran: Future Past at Wonderbus Review+Photos: Duran Duran at Wonderbus 8/26/22
COLUMBUS, OH- Pop-icons Duran Duran celebrated 40-plus years since its inception, with the Future Past tour, which made a stop at the Wonderbus festival in Columbus, Ohio. Hot on the heels of the release of their 15th studio album of the same name and their class of 2022 induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Wild Boys headlined the opening night of the festival. Upon my arrival at the Lawn at CAS, the line of eager fans had already stretched for a few miles to the entrance. But this was not a stop like the rest of the tour, which includes support from the great Nile Rodgers and Chic. This night included a four-band lineup that traversed genres and introduced me to some refreshing newer bands to my old ears.
What is the Wonderbus festival all about, you may ask? Along with its sister festivals, Wonderstruck in Cleveland and Wonderroad in Indiana, their aim is to support the research for mental health treatment. Some of the ads on the big screens spoke of suicide prevention and the like, giving a spotlight on the importance of these types of resources. On the festival’s website, it states, “A share of the proceeds will benefit The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Health and Nationwide Children’s Hospital and On Our Sleeves®, The Movement for Children’s Mental Health.”
As I stated previously, there was an eclectic array of music throughout the weekend.
The first band of the night was Tayls, Nashville’s Friendship Punk band. Fronted by singer Taylor Cole, and rounded out by cofounder and guitarist, Greg Dorris, Keyboardists Mo Balsam, and Michael Taylor, violinist Jo Cleary, Guitarist Andy Heath, drummer Atticus Swartwood, and bassist Jessey Clarke. They aim to “create a loving atmosphere of weirdos and misfits.” This attitude was prevalent as they played their set and interacted with their audience and each other.
Opening their set with their first single, “Scarlet Letter”, drawing the audience in with a friendly, happy, party vibe with the Danceable music. Upon going back and giving their music a second and third listen, and reading up on the band, I discovered lyrically they deal with some heavy topics like loneliness and depression. They really try to create an atmosphere of community, friendship, and inclusion, that seems to say, it’s ok to not be ok, but we are all in this together. Their energetic, 7-song set continued with the songs, “Just Fine,” their latest single, “The World is Crumbly” “Better,l “Like a Bullet,” “First Curse” and the title track to their debut album, “Have you Ever?” My first impression is this band is super fun and community-minded and worth exploring if they are newly discovered for you and continued support if you’re a long-time fan.
Brooklyn’s Daisy The Great, was the second act to perform on Friday night. Their indie-pop vibe was a nice fit in the lineup. Led by Kelly Marie Dugan on keyboards and vocals, Mina Walker on bass and vocals, Bernardo Ochoa on Lead Guitar, and Matti Dunietz on drums. Their sound is atmospheric and dreamy with great folly harmonies and anthemic lyrics. Between songs, they engaged their crowd with heartfelt anecdotes about the meanings and purposes of their songs. They opened their 9-song set with “Easy” followed by “Glitter” the lead single from their second album. This being my first experience with the band, gave me a feeling of welcome and inclusion.
They continued their set with the song, “Riff Riff” a cover of The Sleigh Bells’ song then played “The Record Player Song” their debut single from their debut release. Followed by “Cry In The Mirror,” “Guess it’s a Bad Time To Be Sad,” “Aluminum,” “Liar” and finally closing with “Time Machine. All in all a fun-filled set of danceable hits and fan favorites. The band has a few festivals dates through September and will be on the Happy Fits: Under the Shade of Green Tour in November and December 2022.
The cool thing about the Wonderbus setup was that there were 2 stages and band sets didn’t overlap. There was no rush to get from one set to the other. I would also like to comment on the security staff for the festival. They were all really helpful and accommodating to us photographers, even supplying water and an ice-cold bandana for me to deal with the heat of the weekend.
The sun had set as we made our way back over to the White Claw Stage to await the next band. Cannons from Los Angeles, California, was up next. I had viewed some of their music videos in the week leading up to the show. I was intrigued and anticipating a marvelous set from the band. They did not disappoint. The LA trio consists of Michelle Joy on Vocals, Guitarist Ryan Clapham, Paul Davis on Bass, and Keys and drummer Ben Hilzinger with their ethereal brand of synth-pop.
The band comes on stage and begins playing their song “Shadows” with Joy making her entrance a few moments later. She has a subtle yet seductive, almost dreamy voice that is both sweet and intense. She dances across the stage and interacts heavily with the crowd throughout the set. The entire crowd sways to the entrancing tones coming through the speakers. Enchanting the crowd with her ethereal vocals, Joy, was in her element on stage and everyone could feel it. With the crowd singing every word back to her, she truly lived up to her namesake and was emanating pure joy. So much in fact that during the first song she spins and twirls during the solo that even when she stumbles and falls gets up with a huge smile on her face.
They follow up with “Ruthless,” “Bad Dream” a song Joy wrote during the pandemic, which is a commentary on what she was feeling, possibly what we were all feeling during the lockdown. “Talk Talk,” “Tunnel of You” (which was inspired by black holes and falling in love). “Hurricane” which was the lead single off of their “Fever Dream”’ Lp. They followed up with a cover of Harry Styles’ song “Golden” “Purple Sun, “Evening Star” and closed their set with “Fire For You”
What an absolute “joy” (pun intended) to be introduced to this band in a live situation. Their music blew my mind and I am happy to explore it more in-depth. To me, they were a nice highlight to the evening. Cannons have a few festival dates and headlining shows in the month of September before heading out on the road with The Knocks in October. If they come to your city, go see them.
It came time for the reason I wanted to be here, Duran Duran. The buzz in the crowd was electric as they waited for their heroes to take the stage. There were signs and Duran Duran t-shirts in the sea of fans waiting at the barrier and beyond the main stage. You could see it in the smiles and their faces. I must confess that in my teens when they first came out, I Loathed them in public but watched every video and listened to their albums that my brother, Kenneth, had. To be clear, I hated them not because they weren’t great musicians with great songs, my favorites being “Girls on Film” (yes mostly because of the video) and “the Chauffeur.” It was because all the girls loved them. I wanted them to love me. I was an envious little boy. But also for me, this night and this assignment were for my brother, as a bookend to shooting his two favorite bands, The GoGos and now Duran Duran.
The lights went down as the song “Velvet Newton” played with a smattering of green lights under the risers piercing the darkness. Simon, John, Nick, and Roger, along with guitarist Dominic Brown emerged on stage, opening their career-spanning set with “Wild Boys,” “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Invisible.” This is not a simple greatest hits tour, The Future Past tour features songs from their latest release of the same name. The hits are there but also some fan favorites and deep cuts. The boys sound excellent in their delivery as they celebrate not only 40 years as a band but also as inductees to the class of 2022 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Throughout the set, they would demonstrate what a band that has been together for four decades, has released 15 studio albums, four live albums, four compilation albums, two remix albums, two box sets, seven Eps, 46 singles, and 14 video albums. We would see the band playfully interacting with each other and the audience. We would see graphics on the big screen behind them from their heyday videos from when MTV actually played them. It was both nostalgic and a view of the present and future of Duran Duran.
They followed up with “Notorious” from the 1986 album of the same name. A dip into the world of 007, as the James Bond Theme played and they broke into “A View To A Kill,” which featured the Bond target graphic on each member. I believe they touched pretty much every album as they continued their trip down memory lane to the present day. “Come Undone,” “Give it all up,” and “Friends of Mine” followed. They played fan-favorite, “Careless Memory” before launching into “Ordinary World” which was dedicated to the people of Ukraine.
“Planet Earth” was next which featured the band intros which included extended vocal pieces from backup singers Anna Ross and Rachael O’Connor and saxophonist Simon Willescroft. “Hold Back The Rain,” and “The Reflex” were next, which sounded as fresh as it did when it came out in 1983. Simon’s voice has held up well over the last 40 years. With the inclusion of their cover of Grandmaster Melle Mel’s classic “White Lines(Don’t Do It)” the dancing audience swayed and pulsated and sang back every lyric. There were a lot of sing-alongs and much audience participation. It felt comfortable and familiar, like old friends reuniting after time apart. The last song of the main set was a mash-up of my favorite Duran song, “Girls on Film” and “Appropriate in the ’80s.” The crowd had been whipped up into a frenzy as the shutter sounds came across the sound system and that up-tempo beat. It was flawless and a nice way to leave us wanting more as the band exited the stage.
We waited but a short time for the Wild Boys to return to the stage. With Simon donning a nice Gibson Jumbo acoustic, the familiar and expected keyboard riff of perhaps one of their most loved hits, “ Save a Prayer” began. Simon swayed his arms with the audience following suit. They closed with “Rio” the song from the album with the same name that is celebrating 40 years since its release. The crowd went wild poring everything into every chorus and every word. What an amazing set list Duran Duran presented to us. It felt as if a gift to the die-hard fans and an invitation to new ones. As the band said their final “thank you’s” and “farewells” and took their bows. I was left wondering why I took so long to acknowledge my affinity for their music and to see them live. Definitely, a night to remember.
The Future Past tour continues on the west coast through September with 2 new added dates in Las Vegas in October. Go see them if you can. You won’t regret it.