NEW SENSATION:: INXS AT THE HOUSE OF BLUES, HOLLYWOOD
DON’T EXPECT this review to be even handed. I’ve known the INXS guys since their days as The Farriss Brothers in Perth where they played every Thursday at the Broadway Tavern. When they moved back to Sydney they supported us at the Bondi Lifesaver back in the old days when The Loved One was being released. After that I’ve had to watch them from afar as they rose to great heights and then had the plug pulled with the tragic death of Michael.
But now they are back and recentlyI was lucky to find myself at the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard along with a bunch of other Aussies and quite a few Yanks celebrating G’Day LA week. Okay, so we had to freeze our tits off waiting in line to get in while the Sydney Swans and Kangaroos who had played a footy game that arvo got shown into the VIP section, and alright, the security guys confiscated my camera so I couldn’t take photos of my new found American pals Chicago Christian and Mississippi Jenny, not to mention the INXS guys with new front man JD Fortune. All that was forgotten when I settled in behind the mixing console with a Fosters can the size of Tom Cruise’s ego in my mit. The support group — Porcelain, I think they were called — were excellent. Boys and girls playing hard driving rock with violin. Not since Curved Air has a female violinist rocked so hard and been so foxy.
They went off, tension mounted. Many people had seen new INXS frontman JD on the reality show that had brought the band back into the spotlight. A lot hadn’t. I had been a bit surprised at the vitriol with which many old fans attacked the show. They saw it as selling out. But selling out what? INXS wasn’t just Michael, even though he will remain one of the transcendental figures of 80s rock. INXS are guys who have spent their whole adult working lives together. They are musicians and writers. I can’t see that they should be forced to retire because Michael died. Andrew Farriss is a great songwriter, is he supposed to just turn it all up? As far as I’m concerned nobody should be stopped playing music, creating, touring because it is not “cool”. I say let the boys play and stand or die on their merits.
So the lights went down the band hit the stage and I spun back 25 years watching Tim grind his guitar, Kirk smile and funk around, Garry pirouette and Jon hit those skins like nobody else can while Andrew flipped between keys and guitar. Of course all eyes were on JD. How would he cope?
My verdict. The boys did pretty well. The band cooked. They were straight into their groove, they were having fun, they were tight, they gave JD the platform he was going to need. JD sounds a lot like Michael, he uses some of the poses, he moves well, he interacts with the rest of the band. His biggest weakness at the moment is that he is self-conscious, like he’s practiced his moves in the mirror and is trying to faithfully replicate them. He is reacting not to the audience but to some image of how he thinks he should be reacting bar by bar. But hey, this is early days. When JD has had six months of gigs under his Cuban heels he will have learned that all the energy he needs is right there in front of him. His voice doesn’t quite cut through like Michael’s…yet. But he’s a good singer, no doubt about that and frankly, I was just thrilled to be able to see one of our all time great bands back where they should be.
As for the material, the oldies held up real well, a credit to JD. Of the new songs one with a latin feel (don’t ask me the name, I was sucking on Fosters) really hit the sweet spot and let JD give us a glimpse of what he might deliver in the near future. The gig was excellent. If you used to love INXS, fear not you will still. The only disappointment I had was that though the boys had asked me back after the gig the roady posted on the door of the dressing room wouldn’t let me in to see them. But hey, that’s what happens when fame slips away…as the INXS boys know only too well.
It doesn’t matter, all I wanted to tell them was this: Great gig fellas, nice to have you back.
Copyright © Dave Warner, 2006
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