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INXS/The Beat/Koopa
Hammersmith Apollo, London 21 June 2007

The king is dead, long live the king. But meanwhile here's Canadian vocalist JD Fortune, another pretender to the throne who is actually the fourth vocalist INXS have tried since the tragic death of Michael Hutchence. And on the evidence of this show, JD just about pulls it off, if only because of his obvious appeal to the 'reality' TV generation that swelled the front ranks, and presumably voted him into the job via the 'Rock Star: INXS'TV show.

However, older fans might pause a little before giving up their unconditional adulation. For while JD managed to conjure up every rock cliché, from sitting on top of the speaker stacks to jumping into the crowd to share a cigarette and pour drinks to the front row, he lacks charisma. It wasn't for a lack of trying, as he crouched down to deliver a Bowie style phrase, and made full use of the stage to make his shapes.

While his energetic performance displayed the necessary skills to make a true connection with the female heavy crowd, his between song banter was frequently trite and sometimes downright risible Having called the crowd to attention he managed to name check some of the legends that had played the famous Hammersmith venue in the past, while barely pausing for breath to condemn a recent tragic London stabbing.

That said, this was the performance of a reborn, revitalised band. In the context of a band's career, to overcome the tragic loss of your star front man is one thing, but to manage to restart a band via 'reality' TV might almost be regarded as a stroke of genius. The whole thing principally works in terms of bringing back to life a strong back catalogue packed full of dance friendly, melodic rock numbers with big hooks. The bonus of course is the younger generational appeal of the singer and some fine new songs. The hard rock opening riffs of AC/DC's 'TNT' immediately drove the crowd into an anticipatory frenzy, but INXS's set proved to be far more funky and was punctuated by dance laden grooves that would be an anathema to their hard riffing Aussie cousins.

Nonetheless, the band kicked into the power laden 'Suicide Blond', and efficiently skipped through a career retrospective that included the funky, dance friendly 'Taste It' and the ballad 'Never Tear Us Apart' that like the enduring 'Mystify' brought whoops of recognition from an excited crowd. And while Kirk Pengilly smilingly went about his business, switching from guitar to sax, even occasionally shadow dancing with JD and the rest of the Farriss brothers laid down some rock solid grooves, it readily became apparent that the real cause for optimism is the newer material from 'Switch' which sits so well with the past. If the JD co-write 'Pretty Vegas', with its big chorus was impressive then the beautiful 'Afterglow' proved to be the outstanding new effort.

This show suggests INXS will enjoy a good few more years yet if only because they still have more to give to a newly generated potentially younger audience. Early comers would have enjoyed the power pop trio Koopa who reminded us that they had become the first unsigned band to crack the top 40, with their insistent energetic material including the new chart single 'The One-Off Song for the Summer'.

Earlier on Dave Wakeling's UK Beat proved to be a perfect bit of programming, launching the night into a party mood with a high energy mix of Ska, Reggae and 2 Tone. Wakeling's understated demeanour came as a total contrast to what was to follow. The Beat, complete with two backing singers and an unofficial posse of 8 standing stage right, breathlessly delivered such classics as 'Stand Down Margaret', 'Mirror in The Bathroom' and the rocking 'Twist & Crawl'.

Any band that can successfully rearrange such pop classics as 'Can't Get Used to Losing You' and 'Tears of a Clown' will always find a place at the highest table.

Review by Pete Feenstra

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