First, let me say I’m not a writer. I’ve had allusions of being one, but that’s never manifested itself…until now. So…here’s my chance…I’m getting to write my first review for my wife (!) DivaJulia’s great Dipped in Cream blog. (As Seen on CNN–-she made me say that.)
We had tickets to see INXS on Sunday, July 17th at the lovely Chateau Ste. Michelle winery in Woodinville, WA. We scheduled our vacation around being back in time to go. We watched the extended forecast for the weather and it looked promising (it’s been March here in Seattle for the last 3 1/2 months!!!). In a word…we were READY!! That is until my sweet wife took ill on Saturday and was nowhere near well enough to go by Sunday evening.
Best friend Patrick to the rescue. At Julia’s insistence I called him with 2 hours to go and he was ready when we met an hour later.. The concert started at 7:00pm and we were parking the car at 7:08…not bad.
Julia had found out earlier that week that Berlin, the 80’s New Wave/Synth Pop band would be opening for INXS…what a bonus!!!
We walked in to hear Terri Nunn belting out “No More Words“. Her voice was “on point”…and she looked tremendous…signature 2-tone hair flying! The band was sharp and tight, playing classics like “The Metro“, “Sex” and “Dancing in Berlin“. In between she dedicated “Take My Breath Away” to her father, who is from the Seattle area, and she strolled through the crowd shaking hands, caressing faces and endearing herself to all she passed. It was a touching moment.
They finished their set and Terri closed with a very heartfelt thank you to INXS for letting Berlin be the opening act.
BREAK TIME…GETTING A 2ND BOTTLE OF WINE. A nice Cabernet after the White blend that was vaguely reminiscent of the Chablis I used to drink in my college days decades ago…not my favorite!!
And then it began. Jon, Andrew and Tim Farris, dressed impeccably like Reservoir Dogs in jet black suits, crisp white shirts and skinny black ties started off the set doing a drum opera intro that got the crowd standing and bopping/nodding heads ready for what was to come. It was truly electric!!
Enter J.D. Fortune, Garry Gary Beers, and Kirk Pengilly to round off the group and slide right into “Suicide Blonde”.
Before I go further, let me say that I personally was never a big devotee of live music until my beautiful DivaJulia entered my life. I’ve been to more concerts over the last 8 years since I married her than I have in the previous 50!! That being said, she was really at odds about the addition of J.D, to replace Michael Hutchence when did their talent search (Rockstar INXS) in 2005 for a new lead singer. She had never seen INXS live when Michael was alive and just couldn’t buy into someone replacing him.
Me…not as big a deal!! But…since Julia, I’ve seen almost every video INXS made, watched the dvd, “Live Baby Live” countless times, downloaded practically every song they’ve recorded, and read three biographies. I.LOVE.THIS.BAND…I WAS STOKED!!!
Oh man…!!! “Devil Inside“. Ah, ah, ah!! J.D. is trying his best and I have to give him credit. He’s not Michael–he doesn’t have his powerful voice, but he’s in tune, he sounds good, and I don’t care–I’m seeing INXS live!!!
The five original members are spot on…Tim and Kirk swapping lead and rhythm, Garry on bass, Andrew on keyboards and Jon on drums are blowing my mind. I feel as though I’m seeing “Live Baby Live” in front of me and it’s GREAT!!
The band moves smoothly into “The Stairs“, “Listen Like Thieves” and, one of my favorites from the early days, “Kiss the Dirt“. Throughout the progression of the concert, the guys progressively loosen their ties, open their shirt collars and eventually toss the jackets getting comfortably into the meat of the set. The audience seems to be in revery, singing along with every song, standing the whole time, clapping and swaying to the timeless music.
“Pretty Vegas” was next, the song that J.D. supposedly wrote as an original for INXS to perform during the “Rock Star INXS” competition six years ago. Word has it Andrew collaborated heavily on it with him and, of course, J.D. won and joined the group. That’s all I’m sayin’….
Then followed “Bitter Tears“, “Mystify” and “Don’t Change“. J.D. made a valiant attempt to include the audience in the chorus by stating, “Sing it!!” on “Mystify” just as Michael had done at the famous 1991 concert at the old Wembley Stadium, but the crowd wasn’t 70,000+ strong. Plus, I’m sure many of them have not watched the “Live Baby Live” dvd a “bazillion” times like yours truly and Julia, and didn’t recognize the cue.
Strangely, “Don’t Change” generally was reserved for the last song of their encore in most of their live concerts when Michael was alive, so I wondered why it’s placement mid-set. As it turned out, this wasn’t the only number that seemed out of sequence.
J.D. then stepped off stage and one of the backup singers came up and did a beautiful ballad rendition of “New Sensation“. I haven’t been able to find her name, but she was lovely and had a great voice. Another surprise was Train front-man, Pat Monahan coming on to sing “Beautiful Girl“. While he did a decent job, either he wasn’t miked properly or he isn’t blessed with a very powerful voice…it was really hard to hear him.
J.D. returned to center-stage while the back-lighting flashed, “Mediate“. Again, it seemed out of sequence to me…I’m just used to hearing “Need You Tonight” first which segues smoothly through the drums into “Mediate“….this was backwards! Granted, either way it’s always lovely to hear Kirk’s haunting sax solo at the end of “Mediate“, and he didn’t disappoint.
The band finished out the set in great form with, “Not Enough Time“, (Patrick’s favorite) “Disappear“, “Taste It“, “Original Sin“, “What You Need“, and “Never Tear Us Apart“. Every song touched me in way I didn’t expect, but I think I can attribute it to listening, watching and reading all that was INXS for these many years and feeling like I knew the five original members personally, and I was developing an admiration and acceptance of J.D. Fortune.
The evening had been exceptional, but it wasn’t over yet!! Refreshed, re-shirted and reinvigorated, the boys took the stage once more for the encore and made our collective night. They went right into “By My Side“, then the original version of “New Sensation” and finally, yes, the finale, “Don’t Change“. At that point it did sound like Wembley, with everyone singing along. Perfection!!!
They took a group bow, Jon threw his sticks, Kirk and Tim their picks and they exited to very extended, sincere and grateful applause. I walked back to the car with Patrick, a grin on my face that wouldn’t fade for hours. I’d seen INXS live!!!!
NOTE: If you get the chance, go!!