Home News Review: Don’t Change – Ultimate INXS – Caringbah Hotel – 22 March 2024

Review: Don’t Change – Ultimate INXS – Caringbah Hotel – 22 March 2024

15 min read

It’s been some time now since I first heard about this INXS tribute show and I have been waiting for an opportunity to see them for myself. Where better to catch them on their current ‘Eternally Wild’ tour than in the old INXS early 80’s haunt of Caringbah Hotel. I have heard the ravings about them and the hot band members. I’ve also seen the footage of ladies underwear being thrown on stage so I had some kind of idea about what to expect and exactly how wild it could become. This wasn’t just some standard tribute show, this was a fantastic celebration of all the brilliant INXS songs we know and love, along with some perfect musicianship and comradery between the stage and audience.

As the venue started to brim with INXS fans, you can feel the anticipation from the loyal devotees, edging towards the front to get a closer piece of the action. I couldn’t wait to see and hear every little thing that was going on around me. Then the lights dimmed and there is my first glimpse of Blair Dwyer, the long-haired, magnetising lead singer I have been told is a sight to behold, and as the night progressed, I totally understood the hysteria around this show. Dwyer had everyone enthralled from the first bar of our first tune of the night ‘Heaven Sent’. He has a great voice, his own style and isn’t some try-hard copy of the beloved INXS front man, Michael Hutchence. The crowd knows these guys well and it shows. Then it’s straight into an early 80’s favourite of mine, ‘The One Thing’, and we are already sweating while dancing and singing away. I then manage to write down ‘the women at the front’ as we move into ‘I Send A Message’. The ladies are loving Dwyer, and Dwyer is loving the ladies right back as he expertly sings those INXS classics whilst dancing and commanding the stage, taking phones and filming randomly, much to their delight.

Then it’s time for ‘Guns In the Sky’ while the crowd is in full swing and Dwyer is up and standing on a speaker. This is already one cracking gig and I’m loving every second of it as the guys belt out ‘New Sensation’, ‘Listen Like Thieves’, ‘This Time’ and the supreme ‘Original Sin’ in one big, flawless order. So many of INXS’ songs are in the legendary category that I can’t pick and choose here, and every member of this band is spot on. I’m listening for any faults but honestly couldn’t hear any, and it’s incredibly impressive how they have all come together and created this unique atmosphere with music that isn’t theirs. INXS have such a rich discography of songs that many of us Gen X’s grew up with back in the day, but this crowd was a melting pot from young to old, lapping it all up. I could see the multi-generational faces as I look around and absorb the pure joy from this packed out gig. The crowd was rowdy, unwinding from a hectic working week but declaring their love for all things INXS and Ultimate INXS. As Dwyer quickly changes into a silver jacket and freshens up, his awesome band are already playing into our next song ‘Need You Tonight’. The venue just erupts once more and we are all well and truly sweating away as we attempt to keep up with the pace of this band. Then we are gifted a great mix of INXS’ ‘What You Need’ with some Robbie Williams ‘Let Me Entertain You’. This really is a treat and yet another classic tune with ‘Kiss The Dirt’ is played next.

The fans are jumping and I can see air fists with many just dancing with abandon. I have no idea about the set list for tonight but loved hearing our last songs of the first set ‘Disappear’ and ‘Devil Inside’. It’s a pit of sweat and even the air conditioning unit is struggling as some droplets just drip onto my head out of nowhere. Dwyer goes into the crowd, singing and crooning as the ladies go wild, his charisma just oozes out in spades as he leaves the crowd aching for more.

Intermission allowed some cooling off and purchasing of drinks as I start to chit chat with some of the followers here tonight. These are loyal fans who have been to many of these shows all across Sydney and they tell me ‘it’s always like this, brilliant and wild’, with another telling me how ‘they play about 28 songs all up, they’re amazing’ and of course the gushing over Dwyer. And yes I get it now, 1000%, and look forward to dancing away at another gig of theirs.

Our second instalment just picked up from the first set with ‘Elegantly Wasted’ and ‘Stay Young’. Gosh, I miss this type of music and it’s been such a pleasure to hear these INXS songs again in such an endearing environment with other INXS fans. When such great music and bands come together with real music lovers, there is nothing better, and the wonderful Caringbah crowd elevated this gig even more. We were then regaled with an early 80’s medley that included another gem ‘Just Keep Walking’ but that’s where my notes were a little ineligible as I was too busy singing and dancing until the band glides into ‘Shine Like It Does’ and the slinky ‘Mystify Me’. Dwyer and the band haven’t missed a beat as he slides here, and sends the female strong crowd swooning and wanting more. I knew when I heard the start of ‘Beautiful Girl’ that we would have some hearts bursting within the room with Dwyer sideling up to some lucky ladies in the front, embracing and assisting them with their phones while they record one memory after another. Then we go from sweet to some edgy ‘Suicide Blonde’, then back to the classic of ‘Never Tear Us Apart’. I’m quite sure Dwyer has changed again at this stage as he keeps giving everything to this show and I can’t imagine how many thousands of calories he has burned through just in these 2 or so hours. And it doesn’t stop as next up it’s a cranking cover of ‘Born To Be Wild’ that rounds out our second set before a blistering encore.

This Caringbah mass of party people just could not get enough and before everyone could keep screaming ‘more, more’, the guys were back and another favourite was up next (so many favourites tonight that I felt truly spoiled) with the always enticing ‘Burn For You’. What a night it was, you didn’t want it to end, and that is one part of why this show has so many committed fans waiting for their next tour and going to multiple shows within each tour. Of course, the band kept this tune until the end, that well known synth start of ‘Don’t Change’ started to swell across the venue where it almost has a visible mist for each bar rising from beneath our feet and it was spine tingling. The ferocious dancing and singing from band and crowd was rapturous as everyone hungrily consumed the last moments of this wonderful INXS show.

The cheering and screaming had been deafening during the night and it didn’t stop as we made it to the end and fans were waiting to thank and take photos with Dwyer and this wonderful band of musicians whose passion for INXS is obvious. Everyone was spent but this is a type of exhaustion that is relished at special gigs and this was a truly exceptional tribute to INXS that I’m already thinking about when I can go again. Thank God we can still go out and listen to this timeless music in 2024 and that there are singers and musicians out there that are continually giving INXS the very deserved recognition that they should still be receiving.

‘Don’t Change – Ultimate INXS’ are touring throughout 2024 and this is one show that shouldn’t be missed. Just don’t forget to bring your voice, dance moves and stay hydrated.

Click HERE for more tour dates.

© 2024 – MARINA KNEZEVIC – All Rights Reserved

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