Michael Hutchence of INXS in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1990.

Michael Hutchence of INXS in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1990. (Anita Gosch / ©Stars and Stripes)

THE INXS CONCERT in Frankfurt, Germany, last week was like a game of waiting for the good times to come.

Because when they were good, they were really good. But they were few and far between.

In its 10-year career, INXS has built a reputation for delivering a butt-kicking show. With its rhythmic rock mixed with a dab of funk, a driving beat overlaid with scorching sax and guitar riffs, lead singer Michael Hutchence's impassioned vocals, and a string of danceable hits, the Australian sextet kept crowds on their feet and moving throughout entire shows.

An INXS concert guaranteed a good time, as does, say, a Huey Lewis concert.

This time, however, INXS seems to have overestimated itself. No more than about 4,000 people showed up at the 10,000-capacity Festhalle in Frankfurt. Apparently, the group has toured Germany too many times in the past few years and fans have become oversaturated. Added to that, only one song from INXS's latest album, X, has received any amount of airplay: the recent stateside hit, Suicide Blonde.

Whatever the reason for the small crowd, INXS's twolevel stage and massive lighting setup seemed ridiculously excessive, and the loud volume -obviously set for a much larger crowd — left some of the more mellow tunes reverberating discordantly through the hall.

The show started off on an upbeat note: INXS launched right into the rocking Suicide Blonde.

From there, the concert had its ups and downs, with most of the ups coming with tried-and-true INXS hits from the 1985 multi-platinum album Listen Like Thieves and 1987's Kick rather than new material. Songs such as Shine Like It Does, Good and Bad Times, Need You Tonight and a cover of Edwin Starr's 1970 hit War had much of the crowd dancing but were quickly followed by lulls in the energy level.

It wasn't until the second half of the show, with songs such as What You Need, New Sensation, Devil Inside, Never Tear Us Apart and the newer tunes The Stairs and Bitter Tears, that INXS fans got what they deserved: a rocking good time.

It's possible INXS was just taking a while to warm up — the Frankfurt show was the group's fourth concert on its European tour — or perhaps the band members themselves were let down by the small crowd in the Festhalle. As the tour moves on, hopefully the band and the fans will heat up.

INXS brings along some talented fellow Australians as a warm-up act on its tour. With its mix of hard rock and soul, Absent Friends — featuring Canadian-born singer Wendy Matthews, who's worked with Cher, Donna Summer and Bob Dylan, and singer-guitarist Sean Kelly, founder of the now-defunct Models — is a band worth watching out for. Absent Friends showcased songs from the debut album, Here's Looking Up Your Address, cowritten and co-produced by INXS bass player Garry Gary Beers.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now