At one point during the high-octane Duran Duran show at the Agganis Arena Wednesday night, Simon LeBon mused about the group's unlikely recent collaborator.
"Who would've thought eight years ago that we'd be working with someone from 'N Sync," he said, understandably marveling that in 2008 a turn-of-the-millennium boy-bander would help restore a sense of cool to the most stylish and unfairly maligned '80s man-band.
With co-producing and writing credits - with pal Timbaland - on the band's latest album, "Red Carpet Massacre," Jus tin Timberlake joins a parade of recent Duran Duran credibility boosters such as the Killers and members of Tool.
In truth, the veteran Brits did not need the help then - since they were more adventurous and gifted than given credit for - and they do not need it now as they proved to have plenty of their own firepower to work with 27 years on. (They also sported full heads of hair and trim physiques, to the envy of some peers in the slightly more than half-capacity crowd.)
Wednesday night the quartet plus three touring musicians - guitar, vocals, and mostly inaudible saxophone - cycled through phases of Duran Duran's catalog with an audience composed of nostalgia-seekers, diehard loyalists, and curious newbies.
Each group got what they came for.
Those looking to relive the prom got proper airings of the monster hits from edgy, guitar-heavy early tracks such as "Planet Earth" and "Girls on Film" to the trembling, synth-driven numbers such as "View to a Kill." "The Reflex" was a jubilant jumble of "ta na na nas" and John Taylor's insinuating bass lines and "Save a Prayer" remains a sumptuous piece of pop craftsmanship. (The mix could have used some tweaking, but LeBon's strong vocals sounded fairly clear.)
Those who stuck with the band through thick and thin were probably pleased to hear the mid-period, all-out dance grooves find a home in a cool little electro set a little more than halfway through the show. It featured the quartet lined up at the front of the stage manning their personal, electronic gadget-festooned modules churning out the disco throb and gasp of booty-shakers like "All She Wants Is" and "I Don't Want Your Love." The '90s comeback that lured newcomers and brought the old fans back wafted in on the arpeggiated guitar lines of "Ordinary World" and LeBon's dreamy vocals for "Come Undone." And tracks from "Red Carpet" got polite-to-enthusiastic responses with the yearning, Timberlake co-penned "Falling Down" a stand-out. Saxophone fans were finally treated to hearing the instrument, appropriately enough on closer "Rio."
Vitally, the group's members seemed as though they were having a good time, shimmying under their impressive lighting design - which shimmered, blasted, and flickered in perfect time - and enjoying yet another revival with class and energy.