INXS continued their Switched On world tour last night with the second of two shows in Toronto to a sold out crowd. At Toronto's Massey Hall, Nova Scotia's hometown boy, J.D. Fortune proved why he deserves the title "The Rockstar". He earned that title competing in the hit reality TV show, Rockstar INXS, which became a huge in pop culture and earned INXS a whole new generation of fans.
Marty Cassey and the Lovehammers hit the stage first with songs from their forthcoming album. Marty, the runner up on Rockstar INXS, got the crowd warmed up and on their feet with his mad conductor style performance.
On a black curtain, the Switch appears and the countdown begins. As the audience counted down from ten seconds to one the energy level shot into the stratosphere. When the clock hit zero, the music to "Suicide Blonde" had the concert hall jumping to their feet and screaming in anticipation. The curtain fell, the lights came on, the band appeared and the newly anointed front man, J.D. Fortune blasted into song. The fuse had been lit.
The hour-and-a half performance had a great mix of the familiar INXS back catalogue, including the funky rock hits, "New Sensation", "Mystify", "Disappear", "What You Need", "Kick", "Devil Inside" and "Original Sin". J.D. didn't miss a beat as he blistered through these old hits and added his own emotion and passion to favourite slower classics, "By My Side" and "Need You Tonight".
The set included five songs from Switch, the band's first album with Fortune. "Hungry" and "Devil's Party" have the blend of the band's signature sound of synthesizer and bass beat. "Never Let You Go" offers a new island-flavoured feel to the music. "Pretty Vegas", which Fortune co-wrote, already a huge hit going to #1 in Canada, was performed with lots of glitz and glamour complete with a backdrop of a movie screen that flashed neon lights, showgirls, and money.
One of the most significant moments of the evening came during the performance of the new single, "Afterglow", written in part as a tribute Michael Hutchence, the original lead singer who took his own life in 1997. The song reflects the band's collective decision to move on while keeping Michael's memory alive.
J.D. Fortune was definitely the focus of the evening. His charismatic, sensual performance captivated the crowd and even had him enter the audience at one point.
The five other members of INXS are used to ceding the spotlight but they proved last night that they too can stir the crowd into frenzy. Tim Farris and Garry Beers each thrilled the fans with teasing performances at the front of the stage. The band's unique sound of choppy guitar rifts over danceable rhythms and memorable choruses remains constant and still gets people grooving.
Andrew took his usual spot at the keyboards but also took part in some of the banter and high jinx of the evening. Jon Farriss didn't miss a beat on drums and excited the fans by casually tossing his drum sticks into the crowd. But some of the highlights came from Kirk Pengilly's blasts of sexy sax, sprawling flat on his back for a solo during "Taste It".
The interaction between the five original members and J.D. shows that a true brotherhood has developed over the past couple of months. Their energy was infectious and the crowd was in the palm of their hands.
As they returned for an encore, J.D., decked out in true Toronto duds, a Toronto Maple Leaf's shirt and hat, took a moment to take it all in before he gave an emotional rendition of "The Stairs" and "Never Tear Us Apart". They left us with
a punchy performance of "Don't Change" and although this band has had to endure some difficult changes, it's evident that their fans are loving the new INXS.
Writer: Lisa Kerr