And Now, the Post You’ve Anticipated- INXS Concert in Clearwater, Florida

Nicole before the INXS ConcertWell, if it means anything, my vocal chords are sore.

As you can see from the picture, I wore my KICK tour t-shirt . I was smiling like crazy and jittery. I’ve waited more than ten years for this concert!

Walking into Ruth Eckerd hall, I realized that my 1988 shirt was older than some of the concert-goers…that realization made me feel old for sure! While they obviously became fans after the RockStar show, I was just happy to see that the show had no open seats. My shirt caused a lot of people to do a double take. The reaction was either: “why does that t-shirt say ‘KICK?’” or “hey! I remember that tour!” I was the only person in an INXS shirt from a previous tour. In fact, most of the people I met were new fans. Did I meet people? Of course I did. I’m my father’s daughter.

In fact, I saw more gear worn for the LoveHammers. I was eager to see Marty take the stage with his real band. The show started with their drummer doing a kodo-style rhythmic drumming. My heart pounded faster with each beat. Marty slunk onto stage, looking like Tom Petty’s head perched on Steven Tyler’s body/wardrobe.

Almost the entire rest of the LoveHammers set was disappointing. Marty kept doing the “maniacal conductor” move that was criticized during RockStar. The drummer continued to be excellent, but Marty did not display his best vocal range. Even “Trees” was self-consciously trying to be to hard rock. His acoustic version on RockStar was much better. Marty’s only good song was when he sat down with an acoustic guitar and stopped trying to crouch and pose like a Reznor-esque Johnny Depp.

I anxiously paced during intermission, then saw the 5-minute countdown on the board. I thought my vocal chords were going to crack already! JD Fortune loped onto stage with the rest of the band and opened the show incredibly with Suicide Blonde. His vocals were clean and different from (Michael) Hutchence, but not too different: he belted when Hutchence would have crooned. He made it his own without destroying the original intent and feel of the material. Carlton contends JD is the better vocalist. I am not sure about that.

The band sounded amazing! Kirk (Pengilly) had grown as a sax and guitar player. Andrew (Farris) still hid behind the keyboard, the quiet mastermind of songwriting. John (Farris) cracked the drums smoothly. Occasionally, he lost JD, but that’s the vocalist’s responsibility. Tim (Farris) and Gary Garry Beers were consistent but not heart-stopping. Tim did a couple of really fun guitar tricks.

In fact, the only annoying thing about the evening is that JD was one seriously lonely guy. He was going crazy over the front row girls, and they were going psycho, pulling on his clothes and not letting go, even when he tried to pull away. But he couldn’t stop himself. The most disturbing part of the night is when he became intimate with the mike stand. I mean, we’re talking seriously sophomoric personification of the stand.

That aside, the acoustics in the V-shaped hall were very good. I was in row 14 but stadium seating made it possible to see everything. Our row was about two feet taller than the row in front of us. I was, of course, dancing the entire time and belting every single word of every single song. (My sincere apologies to those in the row nearest my singing.) During the song “Kick,” I was dancing and singing as usual when I noticed Kirk looking at me. He motioned to his chest, pointed at me, and gave me the thumbs up! I started dancing and waving one fist, and he did the same, smiling at me. I was really glad that he saw that we longtime fans are still fans! After the show, one of my new friends sitting next to me said, “I saw the sax player looking at you. Pretty cool.”

I assumed that the set would be all of the new album songs with a dash of old songs for variety. But no, They didn’t even play all of the new songs. There were incredible hits such as “What You Need” played with more intensity than the originals; they dug deep for older songs like “Original Sin.” The variety brought back so many personal memories for me, with each song evoking an album, an era of my younger life. But this wasn’t just a nostalgic trip: the band really has elevated their energy and style. I would like to see Garry come out of his shell a little more (and JD to put it back in his shell!!). Even Carlton, the true live music critic, had chills when the band first started to play and again a few songs later.

But what got me was the encore. They started with New Sensation, which is the kind of song I like to belt in my car. That was one of the first music videos I ever saw (my parents deprived me of cable for many years). I knew all of the dance moves from the video and remember dancing in my childhood family room to the videotape I’d recorded. Then they busted out the “Never Tear Us Apart.” I started shaking with emotion. I had so many moments with that song. Dancing at a school dance with my friend Angie. Asking my first boyfriend if it could be our song (he said “no way.” It’s clear why we broke up, no?). Learning the saxophone part on my friend Allen’s sax after band class.

Finally, they played “Don’t Change.” This was the song that was played during the final RockStar: INXS show that pulled me out of my chair with excitement. It was the moment I realized that I would see the band play again. And the lyrics rang true:

I found a love I had lost
It was gone for too long

Pure perfection. The best concert I’ve ever attended, of any band.

I probably could have gotten back stage; I had talked to a few security people and it seemed easy. Plus I had the “I flew here from Indiana just for this concert?? card to play. But I didn’t want to leave Carlton alone. I just wanted to shake the hands of these guys who have meant so much to me over the past 20 years. So, even though they’ll never see this post, thank you, INXS. You did a great job. Michael would be proud.

6 thoughts on “And Now, the Post You’ve Anticipated- INXS Concert in Clearwater, Florida

  1. Pingback: Nicole, Deipnosophist. »

  2. I love your t-shirt!! I Had the same one years ago. I lost mine…used it everyday when I was young… Could you send me some more photos of that t-shirt? Please!
    I am looking in ebay and more places to find one…no way.

  3. Pingback: » INXS – Ruth Eckerd Hall – Clearwater, Florida

  4. Pingback: INXS – Ruth Eckerd Hall – Clearwater, Florida – Carlton Bale .com

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