THEY just don’t make rock’n’roll fantasies like they used to.
In the post-millennial pop era where every moment is documented, you get fly-on-the-wall films about Justin Bieber or One Direction’s bubble of tightly-scripted reality.
Three decades ago, it was different.
INXS arrived at the perfect time to realise the promise of their moniker in those glory days of the 1980s sex, drugs and rock’n’roll fable.
Seven’s retelling of the INXS story in the Never Tear Us Apart biopic was hyped more than any of the band’s albums were in the pre-Kick era with a plethora of promos.
We knew there would be girls and drugs. Lots of them.
What we could not predict was just how overwhelming the nostalgic pull of the music would be on an audience whose youth was peppered with the soundtrack of INXS.
Once the ubiquitous pub rock roots and childhood back stories — how much do you love Mrs Farriss? — were taken care of, Never Tear Us Apart became less about the sanctioned revelations of manager C.M. Murphy and the band, and more about what we know.
It became about the songs.
Their early post-punk, funk-inflected rock offerings including Simple Simon, Just Keep Talking
and Stay Young returned us to Australia’s hallowed pub rock days when over-capacity crowds gave off so much heat, it would “rain” indoors.
The Swing and Burn For You were hardwired to your feet and your hips, recalling the band’s deft marriage of melody, pulsating rhythms and a decade when the presence of saxophone didn’t provoke an eye-roll. The mullets and the high-waisted jeans remain cringe-worthy.
One of the biopic’s most compelling scenes was the genesis of Need You Tonight, with chief songwriter Andrew Farriss keeping a cab waiting outside his home to the tune of $ 58.40 — a small fortune back then — when inspiration for its genius riff arrived.
Michael Hutchence would distract himself from a hedonistic rave in his Hong Kong home to finish the lyrics in 15 minutes when Farriss handed over the demo tape.
Hutchence’s vocal on Need You Tonight explains why he remains one of the greatest rock gods of our times. It is sex on tape.
The out-of-order Wembley Stadium scenes with New Sensation and Kick’s other hits serve to illustrate just how big INXS got and how quickly we chose to forget that as they struggled for continued relevance.
Never Tear Us Apart is well cast with Luke Arnold giving a nuanced Hutchence and Andrew Ryan offering a spookily uncanny portrayal as Andrew Farriss.
The back and forthing to the back stories interrupted the flow of the movie and the scene featuring Midnight Oil’s manager Gary Morris seeking to make INXS the world’s biggest Christian rock band was gratuitous. Funny, but unnecessary.
But in the end, music was the winner with eight INXS albums, or versions of their greatest hits, skyrocketing into the iTunes top 20 overnight.