INXS has been dormant — or having “a holiday” as guitarist Tim Farriss puts it — since 2012. But the Australian group lives again next week with the one-night-only theatrical screening on Dec. 9 of INXS: Live Baby Live from its July 13, 1991 concert before more than 72,000 at London’s Wembley Stadium.
The show, part of the sextet’s Summer XS Tour, took place on the six-year anniversary of the Live Aid concert and found the group at peak power, supporting its double-platinum X album and playing stadiums around Europe. The show was released on DVD while some tracks appeared on the accompanying Live Baby Live album that November. The new version of the film features a fresh audio mix by Giles Martin and Sam Okell and restores the previously omitted track “Lately” to the set.
Check out a clip of the band performing “By My Side” exclusively below; screening information can be found here.
The occasion has brought Farriss, the oldest of three brothers in INXS, back into active duty to remember the show, late frontman Michael Hutchence and INXS’s past — and, possibly, future.
What do you remember about this show at Wembley?
I think back then we were kind of in the zone. We were doing a lot of shows, quite a lot of shows like Wembley. I think it’s a great snapshot of INXS, where we were at that time. We were literally just treating it as another pub, trying to make a huge venue seem intimate. That’s all we ever were. We didn’t take out all the props and things that normally go with stadium shows, the big production and all that. It’s just us and our instruments and a big stage and some lights and that’s it. It’s hard to be objective, but I think you can really see what we were at that time.
Is there a bittersweet aspect to watching it, since Michael is no longer with us?
It is, a little, on a number of levels. Absolutely. For me, seeing it in cinemas for the first time was quite an extraordinary experience. I was the first band member to see it in that format, on the big screen. I was by myself, no one else with me, and I kept turning around to the projectionists, “Can you turn it up please?” I must’ve said it 11 times, and he said, “It doesn’t go any higher!” (laughs) But it just put me in the moment. It was fantastic. I was thrilled.
That was not the first time INXS played Wembley. You opened for Queen there as well. What was that like?
We felt like the little tin ducks in the shooting range, ’cause Live Aid had resurrected their career, along with Wayne’s World. I’ll never forget saying to myself that it’s not the best position to be in, opening for Queen there. They had the big production and everything, which was great. But we went down well, and we got along really well with (Queen). We’d go out to dinner, just the bands, and hung out a lot. Freddie and Michael got along really well; I remember my brother Jon, Michael and I in Freddie’s room having a few drinks after the show and Freddie got Michael up, singing with him, just Jon and I watching. It was fun.
Are you pleased with INXS’ legacy?
Yeah, especially in Australia. Back in the day we were always on the road, all over the world — anywhere but Australia, it seems. Australians didn’t realize, I don’t think, quite what we were achieving overseas. But they do now, which is a little ironic. I don’t really know what the band means in America anymore. I haven’t spent a lot of time lately in the U.S. I tend to think American audiences are very fickle; You have to be on tap, otherwise you’re like a boutique beer — here one minute, then “What was that beer?” gone the next. But I think amongst our peers, the bands we toured with and met and other musicians in the States and wherever, I’m very happy with how we’re remembered. We got to meet and hang out with some incredible people.
Having INXS: Live Baby Live out again could be a reminder — and introduce some younger people to the band.
I think so, yeah. I think what might appeal to the youth of today is there are no cell phones, no mandatory dances on stage. It’s just us, these guys. Michael’s extremely charismatic; He doesn’t bore the audience with rants about how fucked-up Trump is or the president at the time or whatever. He just gets on with the job of entertaining people, just like the greats did. He didn’t need to be political about things. He just got on with the job.
Mystify: Michael Hutchence, the documentary about Michael, is just out as well. What did you think of it?
That was pretty confounding to watch in some ways. I think Richard (Lowenstein) did a great job. All the forensics, medical stuff about Michael’s condition, was like, ‘Oh, wow!’ I couldn’t help but feel sad we didn’t realize what he was going through. We had no idea there was this psychological problem that was causing him to behave like he was. He had brain damage, basically. I just wish we had known then what we know about things like that now. The fact it and the Wembley thing are coming out at the same time, for me, was a really good thing. I think it’s like a yin and yang; Mystify shows one side of Michael, paying homage to him and their friendship, and the Wembley show is the yin and shows what the band achieved.
Were you disappointed the other eras of INXS, with the other singers, weren’t particularly well received?
Yeah, yes, for sure. I thought the record we made with J.D. Fortune (2005’s Switch) was fantastic; It’s my wife’s favorite INXS record, and she’s been there since we were the Farriss Brothers, so I don’t take her opinion with a grain of salt, I can assure you. And Original Sin (2010), with all the (guest) singers, I thought was very special. In many respects that was the nicest thing we ever did for Michael was that record. It showed what a great singer he was and paid great tribute to him, I thought.
Think there’s a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for INXS?
I’ve been asked that a bit lately. I think it means more to some people than others. It doesn’t mean a great deal to me, but then when I see who’s in it sometimes I think, ‘Yeah, I wouldn’t mind being nominated for that.’ We worked our butts off and toured and toured probably more than some of the bands or artists that are already in it, in America alone. So maybe, yeah, we should be in there.
Next year is the 40th anniversary of INXS’ debut album. Anything planned to commemorate?
There are a few things being talked about. Nothing’s in motion yet, only that we will be doing something. We’ve all had a good break and got to spend time with our families and whatnot. I’ve got a big desire to see the world again. Unfortunately at this point in time I can’t play guitar (he severed a finger in a boating accident during 2015); That’s the second biggest tragedy in my career after the loss of Michael. But I might go along on an advisory level. I couldn’t handle the guys touring without me.
What has everyone else been up to?
We still see each other and talk a lot. We’re still BFFs. Andrew (Farriss)’s been getting his country yibs out; It’s something he’s always wanted to do, and good on him. You can’t stop him from writing — he’s born to write. I’ve been writing a bit lately myself and I’ve also been visiting the whole concept of music video. I’ve always loved that combination, and I’ve got some ideas of new things to do with it. Jonny’s bought a farm and he’s building a house for his family. Then he can go back to being a drummer again. Garry (Gary Beers) has got a band he’s playing in, and Kirk (Pengilly) is running around doing little things here and there. He has a seven-time world champion surfing wife, so it’s quite the dynamic duo those two.
It sounds like you think we might see INXS again soon, though.
I hope so. That’d be great, wouldn’t it? Watching the Wembley Stadium show is good inspiration for that, too.