You know, not that many people watched Rock Star INXS, and there seems to be a negative critical buzz around it. But anyone who watched and wasn’t caught up simply missed the point.
Sure, it’s teevee, it’s a game show of sorts, so it’s a little silly and very contrived. It has to be in order to make something like this work. But the core of it is that this guys who called themselves INXS lost a lead singer in a weird and tragic way, but they’re not done yet. They’re not done being a band. They’re not done making music or performing.
Lots of bands have faced this – Van Halen, Queen, Judas Priest, oh hell, dozens. And almost always they wind up with some celebrity who doesn’t really fit.
Ok. It smacks of sellout. But how are you going to find your right guy, and get your audience to accept him, and get them to care?
I watched the show expecting to hate it, hating the idea. And yet it caught me up – party because INXS themselves are such likable guys. I got to care about them and their search as much as about the contestants in this game show. I wanted them to find the guy who’d give them back their identity as a band.
I saw INXS tonight in Oakland, and once again, it’s clear they’ve found the guy they were looking for. I honestly can’t say that they were any better with ol’ Michael Hutchence. The guy they found, against all odds, is as perfect for the role as anyone could possibly be.
JD’s a superior frontman, one of those guys who’s made to be on stage. He’s got the look, they style, the sound, the charisma. He’s got the voice, and sounds incredibly good singing the band’s old hits. He sounds as good to my ear as Hutchence ever did, and is as dynamic a performer.
The thing that makes it work though, more than anything else, is seeing how dammed happy these guys look. Not just JD, who’s about as lucky a guy as you’re gonna find, but the rest of the band, who not only found a singer and jump-started a career, but who are back to being a band again. You can tell how much it means to these guys.
It was a good show. I’ve never been a giant INXS fan, so these songs don’t have a huge emotional resonance for me. But having watched the re-birth of this band in that curiously voyeuristic way, I have come to care and root for them the way you do for a friend’s band. It’s that sort of pride when you see them do well, that absurd personalizing of something.
All I can say it, they put on a good show anyway, but if you watched Rock Star INXS, go see ‘em live.