INXS - Sound Academy - March 2, 2011
Review and Photos by Darren Eagles
The intimate space of Toronto’s Sound Academy was the chosen venue for a single Canadian show this past Wednesday evening featuring rock icons, INXS. It’s not everyday one gets to witness a group of musicians who have been playing together for 34 years and are still as vibrant and relevant as ever. INXS falls into that category quite nicely.
The show began with the letters “INXS” in red splashed across an array of video light panels at the back of the stage. Then the three founding brothers of the band - Andrew Farriss (keyboards, guitar), Jon Farriss (drums, keyboards) and Tim Farriss (lead guitar) hit the stage to play an unusual but compelling show-opening piece called “Drum Opera”, where Jon played his regular drum kit while Tim and Andrew played single snare drums at centre stage, adorned with various percussion elements hanging off the drums. From there, the rest of the band took the stage with the crowd already fired up, and let loose with “Suicide Blonde”. Each of the band mates were well dressed in black 2-piece suits, with Andrew and JD Fortune showing us that the evening wouldn’t be complete without a myriad of kooky hat changes.
Coming off a short Australian tour and a couple of dates in South America, recently re-minted lead singer of the band, JD Fortune, thanked Sony Music Canada for putting the show together. Fortune, with his come-hither moves and bad-boy good looks was sporting a black top hat and had the female fans complete attention from the start. Reaching out and singing to the ladies in the front row was received with screams and fist pumps.
After original lead singer Michael Hutchence's death in 1997, INXS took a hiatus for a year and did not immediately set out to find a replacement. They performed sporadically with a few different singers for a couple of years. Then in 2005, the band began the reality show RockStar: INXS in order to secure their next frontman in an effort to continue their musical journey. J. D. Fortune of Salt Springs, Nova Scotia won the competition, to become the new lead singer of INXS, whereupon the band and Fortune recorded their 2005 album, Switch, and went on a world tour in 2006. Fortune continued until 2009 when he and the band parted ways, only to find himself asked to rejoin for a special show at the Vancouver Olympic Games in 2010. On again, off again, and in the news over most of 2010, it looks like Fortune is back in the band to stay.
Drummer Jon Farriss made a point after a stripped down acoustic version of “Don’t Change” where only Jon Farriss, Andrew Farriss and guitarist/saxophone Kirk Pengilly were onstage. Jon Farriss asked told the crowd, “Let’s welcome back to the stage not only a great singer, but a great friend, JD Fortune” It seemed like they were going out of their way to show everyone that they were a unified band and that Fortune was indeed their singer. It was great to watch Fortune take hits that Hutchence made familiar to the world so many years ago, and put his own signature on them, all without trying to mimic Hutchence. If anything, Fortune seemed to be channeling “The Doors” singer Jim Morrison in many of his moves throughout the night.
Fans were treated to a 2-hour show, packed to the brim with almost every hit the band had…… and then some. Standout songs, “The Stairs”, “What You Need” and “Never Tear Us Apart” got the fans into the swing of things. In fact, every song played had punch, emotion, and a renewed energy, which seems to be why fans still flock to see their shows after so many years. Seeing expert musicians working their craft in such a polished way made the night even more special. Newer tracks off their 2006 release “Switch” included “Pretty Vegas” and “Afterglow”.
Halfway through the set, during a prerecorded video show featuring “Mediate”, the band left the stage, returning after a few minutes in a completely new wardrobe. This time the fashion was decidedly more casual with jeans and ripped shirts all around. Tim Farriss was sporting a white fighter pilot helmet while Andrew Farris moved about the stage in a large cowboy hat. “Bitter Tears” and “New Sensation” both had a large, in-your-face sound that got the crowd dancing and waving.
After a short break the band returned for a 3-song encore that included a rousing version of “Kick”, the mega hit “By My Side”, and they finished off the evening with “Don’t Change” It was a successful and nostalgic trip back in time with songs that have been bouncing around our brains for years.