ROCK / Is there something we should know?

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WHAT PRICE early-Eighties teen dreams Duran Duran in 1994? Who's left to swoon over Simon Le Bon's male-model lips and Nick Rhodes' waifish cheekbones, so many heart- throbs later? Their frilly blouses and make-up seem so extravagant, so effeminate . . . and yet so contemporary. Pouting and posing are back - Suede in fur coats in The Face, Chris Evans in leather trousers on The Big Breakfast, even a New Romantic retrospective planned on Radio 4. Duran Duran have caught the wave, selling three million copies of their recent Wedding Album (EMI) and touring Britain for the first time in five years.

But it's not all down to luck and patience. Wembley Arena is full of grown-up Eighties teenagers singing along to Nineties Duran Duran songs. 'Ordinary World' and 'Come Undone' are songs of uplifting melancholy in the great British pop tradition of the Kinks and the Pet Shop Boys. And Duran Duran play them well: just tearful acoustic guitar, sobbing synthesiser, melodramatic drum crashes, and Le Bon's affected but effective crooning.

They still look good, too: Le Bon shimmying in a silver satin suit, Rhodes pouting for the cameras, John Taylor still handsome even in a kilt, and new American recruit Warren Cuccurullo strutting in shrink- to-fit trousers and stack heels. Their sound has grown hard and competent - even the ludicrous bad-boy funk of 'Notorious' ('Don't monkey with the business') is as slickly syncopated as Jamiroquai. Other silly moments amuse rather than sag: ancient hip-hop warriors Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five are brought on to help with a well-intentioned stab at 'White Lines'. Le Bon calls them 'hot and happening'. A closing stomp through 'Wild Boys' is as tough and fun as Gary Glitter.

The old hits aren't overcooked disappointments, but served up as the tasty junk-food we remember. 'Girls on Film' pounds as Taylor and Le Bon chase each other in circles; 'The Reflex' and 'Rio' retain their keyboard pomp; best of all, 'Save a Prayer' wails forlornly, ebbing and flowing as the lighters wave.

Great white club-hopes One Dove aim for a hipper version of the same windswept epic pop. But before they can start, singer Dorothy Allison has to weave her way on stage between piles of old amplifiers. Indie guitar bands bracket them on the bill at the Forum. And One Dove's first delicate synthesiser tones have to compete with people buying drinks; last year's wave of clubland excitement shrinks to a ripple before the audience's NME-bred cynicism.

Slow, hard beats thump out. Fat bass notes circle. Allison murmurs the first lines of their first single, 'Fallen', then throws out a shower of ringing, reverberating, long-held notes. Heads bob a little. One Dove sketch their new pop design: the orchestrated emotion of Sixties girl groups and the spooky rattle of Seventies dub given a Nineties techno remix. We get ready to be impressed.

But One Dove never quite get off the drawing board. Their would-be epics lope rather than smoulder: Allison soars only a line at a time, the melodies blur into one long, sad drone, and the bass lines merely grumble. 'White Love' is typical: opening grandly with feedback eruptions, metallic clanks and green smoke, only to peter out with a weak, pre- recorded chorus. The poor, rock-club acoustics don't help but, as their tepid LP Morning White Dove (Boy's Own) showed, so far One Dove only sound world-shaking on paper.

Next up are the Boo Radleys, who win the audience over immediately with an intro tape stuffed with Woodstock and Withnail and I samples. Their Beatles melodies (yes, they are from Liverpool) may be old-fashioned, but they have a rough wistfulness closer to contemporary romantics like Dinosaur Jr and Teenage Fanclub.

After a trio of loud-but- tuneful guitar sprints, the Boo Radleys turn down the volume and get complicated. They bring on a trumpet player, give their keyboard player more space, and embark on a series of multi-part musical voyages that suggest too much time spent in vinyl-stacked bedrooms. Spectral 'Scarborough Fair'-style ballads mutate into romping radio favourites, which escalate into volume battles between band members. None of their noises is exactly new, and they don't all fit, but singer Sice's sweet, high voice just holds them together. The encore mixes choruses as crunching as Black Sabbath's with verses smooth enough to be played on Steve Wright.

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