INXS put on a high energy and spectacular show Monday night at Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA in support of their new album Original Sin. The enthusiastic crowd was on its feet the whole time. All the hits were played. The band played music from Switch and Original Sin. Switch is the album with JD Fortune. Original Sin is a re-working of INXS hits, produced by Jon Farriss who’s the well-known drummer for INXS, featuring guest singers including Pat Monahan of Train singing “Beautiful Girl,” JD Fortune of INXS on “The Stairs” and Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20 on “Original Sin.” The album was a labor of love with production spanning 2.5 years taking Farriss all over the world to work with various artists. The time was particularly special for Farriss, as two of his children were born during the production of the album.
The band kicked off the show with Jon Farriss’ drum opera, with the trio of Farriss brothers enthusiastically drumming at the front of the stage. It was a thrilling way to start the show. The band came out wearing matching sexy black suits: black coats, white shirts, skinny black ties, black pants. They immediately went into “Suicide Blonde,” and then “Devil Inside,” which brought the crowd to its feet for the rest of the show. There were several costume changes into eventual cut-off shirts which must have been a relief with the oppressive heat! The best song of the night was “Never Tear Us Apart.” During a dramatic break in the song, the lights went dim, then the lights flashed back on with Pengilly wailing on his saxophone above the drummer; the crowd went wild.
The band was on top form and singer JD Fortune was especially loving every second of it. JD was flirtatious on stage and interacted with the crowd and band, high fiving the audience, and crouching down to hug people. He was also thrown a love note at the end of the concert. One can’t help but to compare JD and the irreplaceable Michael Hutchence (the former lead singer who died tragically in 1997), but on some songs if you closed your eyes you could almost swear it was Hutchence on stage. It must be a challenge to live up to the legends on stage, but JD holds his own.
One of the highlights of the show was seeing the contrast of personalities on stage. Andrew Farriss is the mastermind behind most of the music, while Michael Hutchence, the former lead singer, wrote most of the lyrics. Andrew, who plays the keyboards, guitar, and more, while not the biggest personality on stage has an irresistible twinkle in his eye. He has a beautiful lightness to his performance. He blasted a mean harmonica during “Suicide Blonde.” Kirk Pengilly, is the bespectacled, mustachioed a la John Waters (super cool look) guitarist/ saxophonist/ back-up singer. He is playful and engaging with the crowd and had the crowd roaring with his brilliant sax solos. Tim Farriss, lead guitarist, was pretty humorous too. During the song “Never Tear Us Apart,” he exaggerated the break before drumming his guitar by handing off his glasses to a stage hand. Jon Farriss is the youngest of the Farriss brothers. He looked rockstar cool with his sunglasses and black gloves. It was amazing to watch him artfully flipping his drum sticks between beats. JD Fortune fits right in with his rock star voice and looks, complete with tattoos, swagger, and enthusiasm. It’s unbelieveble these guys have been playing together for over 34 years and with JD for about 6 years. Despite the length of time together, the band still performed with freshness and originality.
We were lucky to snag an interview with Jon Farriss, INXS’ drummer, despite his busy schedule before the show. Jon Farriss has been the drummer of INXS from the beginning of its formation. He is the second youngest of 4 children and grew up in Sydney, Australia. He and his brothers formed the Farriss Brothers Band before it was renamed INXS. They played their first gig on August 16, 1977, the night Elvis Presley died.
Upon knowing when INXS had “made it” he said modestly there was no defining moment as it was an incremental experience, but having the #1 album was, “Great!” he said laughing. He doesn’t think he still fully grasps what all he and INXS have accomplished as a band.
Farriss reflected on the tour, “Everything is going great. The Original Sin Project has been a great thing not only for us to have experienced in the studio, but it has also been great taking some of the songs on the road and mixing them in with the normal songs we usually play.” Farriss agrees that singer JD Fortune, who was selected by INXS through the reality show competition ROCKSTAR: INXS, is fantastic.
Pat Monahan recently joined INXS for a performance of “Beautiful Girl” at a concert in Seattle and also on their Australian tour while touring with Train. Farriss calls Monahan, “a good guy and consummate professional.” He also joined them for a performance on Jay Leno in May.
Farriss enjoys playing in DC very much and believes he has even celebrated a birthday here before which he calls a great memory.. in fact he is celebrating it again on August 10th for the big 5-0. Farriss does not look fifty! Farriss stays in great shape by watching what he eats and doing cardio. He doesn’t recommend eating food advertised on television. He also plays athletic drums and enjoys being light on his feet. The whole band looks fantastic! Farriss believes strongly in “honoring who you are physically and spiritually.”
When asked if he feels like he is missing out by not being able to rove the stage and high five the crowd when sitting behind the drums, he laughs, “It’s not something I ever thought about!” He points out that he does get out from behind the drum kit for the stripped down version of “Don’t Change.”
The Australian sextext is a very tight band. One would think having three brothers playing together there would be a lack of boundaries and inter-fighting, but not so. The band is egalitarian which is also a reflection of Australian culture. One can see that in their music videos.. almost all 6 band members get equal time. Farriss, reflects, “We’ve been playing for so many seasons. The band is like a family. We love what we do. The moments on stage are infectious. I’m the luckiest guy in the world. We can still segregate the band side to the family side. It seems to work for us. We are very lucky.” While Farriss enjoys living the dream in being in INXS, he does miss his wife and children while on the road. His children need more stability so they do not come on the road with him (can this guy be even more likable?).
When INXS is hanging out in their hometown of Sydney, people do not treat them any differently. As for the fame, Farriss says, “Australians tend to bring you down to earth. When Australians see you they just say, “G’Day Mate and might pat you on the back, but that’s it.”
“The real celebrities in Australia are actually sports stars,” says Farriss, who never aimed for fame. “It has its up and downs. I enjoyed the fame when it’s good. I don’t aspire to a famous guy. It’s not what drives me. I’m proud to involved with something famous that is good.” He does get noticed now and then and his wife will point out that he has been spotted sometimes at the 10 o’clock and 5 o’clock. However, he usually doesn’t seem to notice. He says people are generally very nice.
Farriss briefly reflected on the former lead singer Michael Hutchence, but Hutchence’s passing obviously still has an impact. Farriss has worked behind the scenes quietly in Australia for Life Line to help prevent suicides. Hutchence and Farriss were roommates in Hong Kong. Farriss says, “I have so many favorite memories. One was going boating in Hong Kong and having picnics with friends in the harbor of Hong Kong. Happy Days.” He calls Hutchence’s passing a shocking and tragic situation.
Besides the tour and new album, INXS recently became involved with a clothing line, Lyric Culture, a fashion line which features jeans emblazoned with INXS lyrics. Farriss said the clothes are available for purchase online, but they have thought of selling the clothes at their gigs too. This collaboration randomly happened when INXS was recording their album “Switch” and ran into Hannah who runs Lyric Culture.
Farriss ended the interview by sharing that his modus operandi in his life is kindness. “Everything does fall into place. Remember kindness in your heart.”
INXS’s next gig is in Baltimore Wednesday night at Rams Head Live and they close out their US tour in Atlanta, Georgia August 14. Keep up with INXS by becoming a fan on Facebook, or check out their website.