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BMG presents
INXS: Live Baby Live (1991)

"You're so fine/lose my mind/and the world seems to disappear/All the problems/all the fears/and the world seems to disappear"
- Michael Hutchence (singing)

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: January 12, 2004

Stars: Michael Hutchence, Andrew Farriss, Jon Farriss, Tim Farriss, Kirk Pengilly, Garry Gary Beers
Director: David Mallet

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (suitable for all audiences)
Run Time: 01h:32m:08s
Release Date: October 07, 2003
UPC: 060768835092
Genre: rock

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+B+A- B+

DVD Review

During my junior-high years of the late 1980s, INXS rivaled classroom favorites U2 and Guns n' Roses in rock popularity. Few kids lived without their cassette of Kick, which featured numerous catchy singles. Who didn't want to sing along with the energetic beats of The Devil Inside or the emotional romance of Never Tear Us Apart? Following the alternative-rock craze of the 1990s and its progression towards heavier, duller tunes, the six-piece band failed to retain its popularity. Their last few albums also lacked the same cohesion and marketable singles as 1985's Listen Like Thieves and 1987's Kick. On July 13, 1991, however, INXS delivered a remarkable concert for more than 70,000 fans at England's Wembley Stadium that marked a definitive moment in their 20-year career.

INXS: Live Baby Live effectively chronicles that massive concert event and presents the guys in top form throughout its 92-minute running time. Beginning with the big guitars of Guns in the Sky and progressing through nearly all the well known hits, this show provides a solid overview of INXS' successful music formula. Highlights include the chant-along chorus of Disappear, the harmonica-charged Suicide Blonde, their first big hit What You Need, and the double dose of Need You Tonight and Mediate. Touring at the time to support X, the band draws considerably from that album and its predecessor, which leads to a generally strong performance. Past gems like Don't Change are notably absent and a few tunes lack energy, but they detract only slightly from the overall show.

INXS formed amidst the pubs of Sydney, Australia in 1977 and quickly became a success within a few years of performing at home. Comprised of brothers Andrew Farriss (keyboard, guitar), Tim Farriss (guitar), and Jon Farriss (drums), along with Gary Beers (bass), Kirk Pengilly (guitar, saxophone), and Michael Hutchence (singer), the group retained the same lineup throughout its career. Following several releases that did well in Australia, they began to gain a small international following and finally reached the big time in 1985. They continued to grab larger audiences each year, culminating in the Wembley Stadium concert. This show presents the band having a great time and firing on all cylinders as a cohesive unit. Hutchence leads the charge from the front of the stage and engages the large crowd into an excited frenzy.

The music world received a shock in 1997 when Michael Hutchence died under very suspicious circumstances. This event marked the true end to INXS, although they would perform with other frontmen in the future. While viewing Live Baby Live, I found myself realizing just how engaging Hutchence could be on stage and why he became such a star. His moves aren't very rhythmic, but his charismatic presence helped INXS to rise above their straightforward material. An above-average pub band reached surprising heights largely thanks to his presence, which really carries this performance. This doesn't take away from the other guys, who all play their instruments well, but Hutchence had that specific brand of persona that few singers possess. In a manner similar to Mick Jagger or Bono, he could grab you and not let go, even when performing their less-than-stellar material.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: INXS: Live Baby Live utilizes a solid full-frame transfer that effectively captures the atmosphere of the grand concert. The performance is shot well and uses numerous camera angles to draw us into the stadium. The picture doesn't present spectacular colors, but they shine clearly and fail to distract in any way. The result won't match the best film transfers, but it still provides a powerful experience.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: This release offers the option of choosing between two excellent audio transfers. The 5.1-channel Dolby Digital transfer exhibits tremendous power and turns your living room into a concert hall. It only falls slightly below the DTS track in terms of complexity, but it's hardly noticeable during most scenes. Both options nicely translate the 12-year-old concert into a memorable experience. This disc also offers a 2.0-channel Dolby Surround track, which retains the volume solidly but lacks the same level of depth.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Music/Song Access with 22 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Production Notes
2 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by INXS
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: It's a minor surprise to have some decent, compelling extra features on this type of concert release. Easily the best inclusion is the 37-minute documentary, Wembley XS, which provides a modern-day retrospective of the concert. All of the band members (with the obvious exception of Hutchence) provide detailed comments on their experiences and seem very down-to-earth. We also see plenty of clear video footage of the sound check, hotel time, and after party that enhance our understanding of the show. This feature really places the event into perspective within the band's career and is paced very well to remain interesting throughout its considerable running time.

Talk Baby Talk presents 25 minutes of band-member interviews from the actual day of the concert. They appear in a fair black-and-white transfer that lessens the experience, but we do learn some worthwhile information. This release also includes a feature-length commentary from the band that seems like a worthwhile feature. Sadly, the guys aren't as interesting here as they were in the documentary, and the track drags along.

The remaining supplements include a bonus track, text liner notes, and a slow-moving photo gallery. The extra song is called Lately and is presented along with various concert clips. The first several minutes focus entirely on Hutchence and act almost like a euology for the talented performer.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

My interest in INXS has diminished significantly over the years, and now I'm not even sure where those old tapes are anymore. INXS: Live Baby Live did a nice job in reminding me about this solid band and their memorable hits. This performance is a must-own for devout fans and should provide an entertaining ride for casual viewers.


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