Contained within is the second of two evenings at the Budokan in Tokyo, Japan (held July 12, 2003) featuring the seminal Duran Duran lineup of Simon Lebon (vocals), Nick Rhodes (keyboards/vocals), Andy Taylor (guitar/vocals), John Taylor (bass), and Roger Taylor (drums). In conjunction with online retailers, themusic.com, the combo are making available every note played on their brief seven-date "78-03" Summer Tour of Japan and the Southwest United States. The Duran Duran Encore Series is comprised of complete and unedited soundboard/mixing desk recordings of each gig. A glance at the set list reveals a bulk of the material consists of familiar numbers that became their definitive titles. "Planet Earth," "New Religion," "Is There Something I Should Know," "The Reflex," "Hungry Like the Wolf," and "A View to a Kill" are among the strong showings from Duran Duran's nine Top 20 hits that came from the equally successful Top Ten LPs: Duran Duran (1981), Rio (1982), Seven and the Ragged Tiger (1983), and Arena (1984). However, the two hours are likewise marked by well-executed readings of "Come Undone," "Ordinary World," and "Notorious," as well as the cover of Grandmaster Flash's "White Lines" -- all of which are post-Andy Taylor and Roger Taylor. Arguably the most satisfying elements for long-time enthusiasts will be the dead-on accuracy and youthful vibe they inject into deeper album sides such as "Friends of Mine" and "Night Boat." During the Japanese leg of the tour, the band settle into a fairly stable running order that doesn't vacillate very much. One exception to that is the slight amendment to the encore, as "Rio," "Reflex," and "Girls on Film" are interchanged. "Still Breathing" is one of the better (concurrently) new tunes, and recalls the ethereal romanticism of "Save a Prayer" or "Chauffeur." The packaging is relatively simple, yet visually compelling with a gatefold cardboard sleeve sporting the performance date on the front, and track listing on the rear. The inner panels include a recent still photo, as well as a vintage memorabilia collage.
AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer