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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisNo one will ever be able to replace Michael Hutchence in INXS, but the band continues to forge on a decade and a half after his death. Outside of the fallen front man, all the original players remain, including Andrew Farriss (keyboards, guitar), Tim Farriss (guitar) Jon Farriss (drums), Garry Beers (bass) and Kirk Pengilly (guitar, sax), alongside its second longest running singer J.D. Fortune (plucked from the "Rock Star: INXS" reality show in 2005).
Though it might be easy for skeptics to question the band's intentions about moving on, the Australian alternative rock favorites are extremely vocal about this tour serving as a tribute to Hutchence. In fact, the group's latest project Original Sin (Rhino) finds the fellas rearranging their best loved hits and some deeper album cuts with several guest vocalists as diverse as Ben Harper and Nikka Costa to Tricky and Train's Pat Monahan.
The moderate but mighty crowd at The Venue at Horseshoe Casino was treated to over twenty tunes from the group's funk-flanked history, sometimes as true to form renditions, and in other cases, the Original Sin versions, all of which called into light the band's '80s and '90s innovations. The harmonica-doused "Suicide Blonde" set the trip down memory lane in motion, exploding with a scorching rhythm section that managed to escape its age. Other new wave favorites like "Devil Inside" had no trouble fitting in with the newer in comparison "Pretty Vegas" or "Taste It," if only for the group's sultry blend of soulful guitars and infectious synths that have since been borrowed by countless younger bands.
In keeping with the tribute concept, "Don't Change" was stripped down to an acoustic reflection, while "New Sensation" first popped up in the set list sung by a sultry background singer. (Both were reprised during the encore in their more memorable synth pop formats). Other less expected cuts from the group's early years like "Kiss The Dirt (Falling Down the Mountain)" and "Original Sin" gave additional examples of INXS' sometimes overlooked depth, while "Not Enough Time" served as a bittersweet reminder of its leader's disappointing demise.
Nonetheless, Fortune's boundless energy helped bring the mood back up for the swinging "Disappear" and the throbbing "What You Need," along with the genuinely moving power ballads "Never Tear Us Apart" and "By My Side." Even though nothing can bring Hutchence back to present those very staples himself, INXS is sounding even stronger than expected, while keeping the group's inventive catalogue alive.
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