A correction was made to this review on Jan. 30, 2006.
CBS’ summer series “Rock Star” did indeed land INXS a new lead singer, but it inadvertently gave short shrift to the musical ken of the INXS band members. Considering how long the three Farriss brothers, Kirk Pengilly and Gary Beers have been away from the stage, they returned in gallant form with contest winner J.D. Fortune fronting them, and their no-nonsense ’80s dance rock sounded fresh — for the most part — at the Gibson Amphitheater.
Staging open auditions on TV to replace the late Michael Hutchence certainly helped drive up the anticipation factor and sell out the house; new album “Switch” (Epic), with a quarter-million sold, is neither a hit nor an embarrassment. By adding three or four tunes to the live repertoire, INXS has played its cards right.
When they took the stage in a bank robber motif of leather, shades and gloves, there was reason to wonder if they’re still playing to the cameras.
Instead, the veterans of INXS stuck to yeoman performance of their roles: Andrew Farriss, the band’s musical mastermind, stayed toward the back and bounced between guitars and keyboards; guitarist Tim Farriss stayed position stage right and just appeared to be having the time of his life; and Pengilly, when he got out his tenor sax, stepped ever so slightly into the spotlight. They have willingly handed over center stage to Fortune, the 32-year-old former Elvis impersonator from Canada, and he uses the opportunity to preen and strut while delivering the songs the way they were recorded.
Hutchence, obviously, got more mileage out of the sex symbol posture — he gave the band its signature look — but Fortune provides a glimmer that he’s searching for a viable meeting ground between pose and professionalism.
Amid what was mostly the revival of a dormant catalog, new tune “Devil’s Party” fit fine between “New Sensation” and “Mystify Me,” capitalizing on the bulldog approach INXS takes with so much of its material. Band left only a few seconds between each song and played everything to the hilt in terms of density, leaving little room for solos or any sort of flash.
While it might have been nice to hear a story from Fortune or an anecdote from one of the Farrisses, it’s clear they have no use for memory lane — these guys want the crowd on its feet for 90 minutes, and they won’t give them any reason to sit down.