INXS: In Concert
The band looked familiar. Well, at least five-sixths of it did.
The core of INXS, Australia’s pop darlings for more than 20 years, appeared a bit more seasoned last night in Washington, D.C. than when I last saw the group live, back in 1987.
But something up front was certainly different.
I’ll admit that it must be incredibly hard to replace an icon like Michael Hutchence. Apparently, however, gyrating languidly and humping the microphone stand help the new guy settle in more smoothly.
I had the distinct pleasure of hearing—and the distinct pain of seeing—more than 90 minutes of this center stage oddity, who the band selected from hundreds of contestants on last year’s reality television hit Rock Star. I had trouble remembering his name; although I knew it was J.D. something-or-other, I could only recall that his last name was the same as one of my favorite Chinese restaurants.
And J.D. Szechuan Palace just didn’t sound right.
Eventually, the writhing vocalist’s name—J.D. Fortune—came back to me, but I chose to follow the lead of a fellow concertgoer, who dubbed him simply “Not-Michael Hutchence.”
Everybody wanted to know whether Not-Michael’s voice could carry all the old favorites. To everyone’s delight, it did. Very well, in fact. This amazing singer belted out not only half a dozen well-known tunes from 1987’s smash album Kick and three from the follow-up, 1990’s X, but also half of the new album Switch, including songs like the new rocker “Devil’s Party” and the current ballad “Afterglow.”
The band also tackled older favorites like “Original Sin” and “What You Need,” which the players seemed to enjoy more than the newer material. Throughout, fans cheered for Not-Michael Hutchence’s interpretation of his predecessor’s well-known vocal stylings as well as for his crisp delivery on the tracks from Switch.
Sadly, that great voice is forced to share the most-memorable-aspect-of-the-show award with something far more troubling: Not-Michael Hutchence’s squirming and extended feigned microphone-stand rape, which did nothing to excite the ladies in the crowd while doing much to nauseate the men.
During the band’s extended instrumental section of “Taste It,” one could see parents turning their children away from stage’s disturbing one-man lizard-like re-creation of Caligula. Even the other band members seemed uncomfortable with the display.
Surely he was trying to match Hutchence’s raw animal essence, going for the lithe, nimble, and sexy look. But it came out more as contrived and desperate, like an oversized gecko who just drank a smoothie of blended Mick Jagger, Axl Rose, and Lucas from Empire Records.
The word on the tip of everyone’s tongue: awkward.
It was a shame to leave an otherwise excellent concert with the image of Not-Michael Hutchence trying so hard to look “cool,” but only distracting the audience from his own stunning vocal performance.
One line summed it all up. During “Hot Girls,” from Switch, he sang, “I got nothing to prove/Ain’t got nothing to lose.”
With a voice like yours, Not-Michael Hutchence, you’re exactly right … you should have nothing to prove. But quit those stage antics, or you’ll find you DO have something to lose.
Your new job.