INXS may just have a second act after all, and that’s in large part due to new singer Ciaran Gribbin.

At the FCC Ball, the lead vocalist from Northern Ireland was every inch a budding rock star: preening with dark shades, galloping across the stage, shaking hands with new found fans and above all, displaying a range that recalled a younger Michael Hutchence in his stadium prime.

The veteran Aussie act seemed to sense this too by playing with renewed hungry vigor. Announcing their entrance, drummer Jon Farriss teamed up with fellow bandmates in an aggressive three way Kodo-styled drum jam before launching into “Suicide Blonde”, the first of many signature hits on the night.

With a giant fluorescent INXS backdrop and bolstered by two backing female singers, Gribbin’s constant grin said it all. If this was to be a superstar version of a covers band, he was going to make the most of it. Early hits “Original Sin” and “Falling Down The Mountain” came in quick succession, as did “Disappear” and “Bitter Tears”.

It didn’t all work. Yuto Mizayawa, the young Japanese teen phenom guitarist, lent a well intentioned squall as he soloed during “What You Need” and when the female backups took turns singing lead on the extended seminal “Kick” tracks, now 25 years old (which Jon Farriss proudly pointed out was written in Hong Kong), it resembled the TV reality show the group seems so desperate to move past.

But Gribbin, who also played acoustic guitar at times, now allows the group to delve deeper into their catalog. Close your eyes and “Not Enough Time” had the deep dangerous sound the way it was intended and “Heaven Sent” was an audio blitz. At one point, the group even tested out “Sugar”, the lone new song, which can best be described as admirable funk light.

Sure, there were lapses in momentum, yet the heartfelt cheers amongst the admittedly older crowd prompted the group to come out for a surprise five song encore, culminating in a strong, faithful reworking of “Elegantly Wasted”.

By the end, it might not have been elegant and it was the audience who was wasted, yet this show could still proudly sit alongside the group’s peak days.

OCTOBER 6th, 2012

Review By Scott Murphy

Photo provided by Boots Moyer