INXS Lead Singer, Fifteen years on from the death of Michael Hutchence, INXS has a new lead singer. Another one. That’s the reaction the band’s longtime members — Andrew, Tim and Jon Farriss, Kirk Pengilly and Garry Gary Beers — so often get when they talk of hiring another frontman.
As a result, they’ve tried a low-key approach this time, not shouting it from the rooftops (or making a reality television show out of it) but simply by letting Irishman Ciaran Gribbin earn his stripes on their tours in South America, Europe and now Australia.
When he performs two shows at the Sydney Entertainment Centre this week, 35-year-old Gribbin will be out to prove the band is still kicking – and has every right to be.
“They’re still creative, they’re still hungry to prove they have something to say,” says Gribbin. “They’re also still hungry to perform those songs, the songs that were a part of so many peoples’ lives growing up.”
Many others may wonder why the Farriss brothers and longtime “adopted brothers” Pengilly and Beers are still persisting with INXS concerts all these years after Hutchence’s death.
The level of international interest in the band’s music, which continues to this day, might surprise them.
“At Christmas time we were playing to 33,000 people in Buenos Aires and 15,000 in Peru,” says Tim Farriss. “We do what we love to do and that’s play music together. And we haven’t stopped. For us the knife is never sharp enough, there’s always things we hone.”
Gribbin is the third full-time INXS frontman since Hutchence’s death. The self-described “family man” has moved to Australia with his wife, Donna, and toddler son, James, to work with the band.
Noiseworks singer Jon Stevens was the first to take up a touring gig with INXS, but the relationship eventually soured. Then came the search for a reality star and frontman on INXS:Rock Star which yielded JD Fortune, but his chemistry with the band didn’t work out either.
There have been other brief match-ups: onstage appearances with Terence Trent D’Arby, jam sessions with Jimmy Barnes and a creative flirtation with Suze DeMarchi from the Baby Animals.