INXS | 2.28.06

As the countdown clock alerted the crowd to when the band would be taking the stage—and thank you very much for that—I took a quick survey of the crowd. The makeup of the largely female crowd seemed to have a large age gap. There were the teenyboppers who were barely legal and their moms who were pushing 40.

 

Family Arena, St. Charles, MO

After having to reschedule their concert—due to new singer J.D. Fortune’s bout with bronchitis—INXS finally returned to the Gateway City to remind us all that even without the legendary Michael Hutchence, they are still a great rock band. Don’t get me wrong; I was a Hutchence fan since the first time I heard him sing “This Time” from 1985’s Listen Like Thieves—but the times they are a-changing.

When I first heard that INXS was looking for a new lead singer via the reality TV series Rockstar: INXS, I was ambivalent. It seemed almost blasphemous that the band was trying to replace the man who spearheaded their rise to pop/rock legend. Out of pure defiance, I didn’t watch the show—but my best friend did. She would give me updates about who was progressing and whom she wanted to win. When the show was getting to the end, she confided in me that she loved both finalists—J.D. Fortune, an Elvis impersonator, and Marty Casey, a wired singer who had a lot of passion. After seeing both singers in action, I can now say that INXS chose the right one to lead their band into the next chapter.

One quick note about the band’s opening act, Rock Star’s runner-up: Marty Casey & The Lovehammers. The band’s music was bland, but Casey was entertaining to watch. I finally understood what my gal pal had been raving about—this man loves performing. That said, I don’t think that his persona would have melded with the pop giant INXS.

As the countdown clock alerted the crowd to when the band would be taking the stage—and thank you very much for that—I took a quick survey of the crowd. The makeup of the largely female crowd seemed to have a large age gap. There were the teenyboppers who were barely legal and their moms who were pushing 40.

When the lights dimmed and the new formation of INXS took the stage, all of my pseudo-political wonderings went right out the door as Fortune and Co. launched into one of the band’s biggest hits, “Suicide Blonde.” All fears of a sub-par INXS performance were erased as Fortune rocked his way through the INXS classic. Fortune appeared confident and charismatic as the young ladies lusted after him and their moms lusted after the rest of the band.

Sprinkling in new songs like “Devil’s Party” and “Afterglow” along with the hits seemed to be the easiest way to introduce the new material. While not my favorite performances of the night, the new songs may grow on me given time—we’ll see.

While the new numbers seemed somewhat out of place, the familiar INXS hits came off fresh and full of energy. “Mystify,” “New Sensation,” and “Need You Tonight” transported me out of the Family Arena and back to the days of watching the cool skateboarding kids show off their mad skills around North County landmarks.

The main highlight of the show came when the band launched into its high-energy hit, “Kick,” followed by an original song Fortune co-wrote with founding member keyboardist/guitarist Andrew Farriss during the Rock Star series, “Pretty Vegas.” The contrast of the two songs was a sharp reminder of where INXS came from versus where they are headed.

Fortune’s vocals did start to fade about halfway through the show—the man was recovering from bronchitis, so I was somewhat forgiving. But when the band came out for their obligatory encore, Fortune let me down with his weak vocals on two of my all-time favorite INXS songs, “Never Tear Us Apart” and “Don’t Change.” These two songs are the epitome of why INXS were successful in the ’80s: They could make the girls cry and the guys rock out. However, seeing how Fortune seemed to just be getting through the songs, I downgraded his performance just a smidge. While far from a complete letdown, I was disappointed that he didn’t give these legendary songs the same passion and energy as he did the new material.

Perhaps I just need to build a bridge and get over myself his is the new incarnation of INXS, and the diehard fans are just going to have to get used to this fact. All in all, the old songs sounded fresh as ever and Fortune did give the crowd exactly what they wanted: a rocking good time.

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