ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 3, 1988
By Steve Newton
The banner across from the press box read in big block letters: INXS KICK ASS. Now I wouldn’t have agreed with that statement right off, but after seeing Michael Hutchence and company sweat it out for 100 minutes last Friday (May 27), I have to admit that they are fully capable of putting boot to butt–in their own unique way.
Wearing a plain white shirt, black pants, and boots, Hutchence was a mighty motivator, moving from one side of the stage to the other, climbing speaker enclosures, and inciting the noisy crowd with his casual rag-doll jerks and twists.
Bespectacled guitarman Kirk Pengilly–looking nerdishly cool a la Buddy Holly–stuck by the KISS philosophy (Keep It Simple, Stupid), and favoured a barrage of shimmery rhythms instead of your typical rock-star solos. He was particularly effective on tunes like “Original Sin”, and “This Time’, matched by the band’s top-notch rhythm section. The overall sound was rather tinny and the vocals were often lost in the din, but one thing is certain: those Aussies sure know how to keep a beat!
On “Listen Like Thieves”, Hutchence sat down on the edge of the stage and bravely clasped hands with the crazies doing the sardine shuffle there. The latest single, “New Sensation”, had fists punching air like a regular metal show, and the bouncers guarding the stage really earned their pay, dragging a steady stream of bodies over the barriers (which somehow managed to keep back the hordes).
After a riotous version of “What You Need”, the band exited, only to return for the first of two encores, and the super-slinky hit “Need You Tonight”. Hutchence came back on wearing knee-length bicycle shorts and a black leather jacket, and got most of the almost-packed house of 12,000 on its feet under a hellish red glow for “Devil Inside”. The group also rocked out on the Easybeats’ “Good Times”, a boogie tune INXS recorded with fellow Aussie Jimmy Barnes for the Lost Boys soundtrack.