Features

Saturday Deluxe / 13 July 2019

28 years ago today INXS played Wembley Stadium as part of their ‘Summer XS Tour’.

It was captured on film by David Mallet, who used 16 cameras (all 35mm) – including one in a helicopter – to capture the scale of the event and the band at the peak of their powers. It was issued on VHS at the time (and later DVD) along with the Live Baby Live album, although the latter used audio taken from various concerts from the tour.

This footage has recently been rescanned and restored to allow for a 4K presentation and there should be a short theatrical run later this year with Dolby Atmos surround sound. I saw a preview this week and was blown away by both the quality of the audio and visuals and the enormous stage presence of Michael Hutchence.

With the excellent Mystify: A Musical Journey With Michael Hutchence recently released on CD (vinyl coming in August) it feels like INXS activity is (finally) starting to crank up again, after 2017’s fine KICK 30 reissue. I spoke with the band’s manager Chris Murphy yesterday about the Mystify documentary (which isn’t yet released) and the companion album – don’t call it a soundtrack! – and of course I asked him about the reissue campaign and a certain Max Q. This interview will be published in the near future.

Six years earlier, on the very same day in 1985 – and in the same place – London hosted the UK leg of Live Aid, Bob Geldolf and Midge Ure’s benefit event which, of course, also took place in Philadelphia in America.

The event rather neatly divides the 1980s into a ‘post’ and ‘pre’ Live Aid periods, with the first half of the decade generally regarded as the more interesting and inventive five years, despite some great music from the likes of Pet Shop Boys and a-ha (to name a couple) happening afterwards.

Live Aid has never been issued physically on any audio format, although in 2005 highlights were issued on a four-DVD set to mark the 20th anniversary. In October last year, the audio did turn up on streaming services and you can buy the whole thing (not actually the ‘whole’ thing…) as high quality FLAC files for under a tenner!

The day is remembered for as much for the cock-ups as anything else… Paul McCartney‘s mic not working, the TV transmission going down during The Who, Simon Le Bon singing *that* note during ‘A View To A Kill’, Led Zeppelin‘s rather lacklustre performance (blamed rather unfairly on Phil Collins) and Bob Geldof saying ‘fuck’ on live TV in the middle of the day!

Nik Kershaw told me he was “absolutely terrified” on the day, while Gary Kemp from Spandau Ballet bemoaned the decision to perform a brand new song (‘Virgin’) on that Saturday in 1985, when I spoke to him back in 2017. “That was a real mistake, of course it was. Total mistake… I mean I can’t believe we did it!” he said.

If you’ve ever wondered why Tears For Fears didn’t appear at Live Aid, I asked Roland Orzabal that very question a few years back when I was interviewing him for the sleeve notes of the Songs From The Big Chair reissue. His hitherto unpublished response was as follows:

Roland Orzabal: When it came to Live Aid, we’d been on the road for a long time. When Bob [Geldolf] initially started asking people to do Live Aid he hadn’t asked us, because we hadn’t broken big then. We weren’t the first people he called. It only became an issue when we’d broken America. And then we had to make a decision because we’d already scheduled the tour. But at the end of the day, if you look at the bands who rose to the surface and showed how great they were live, like Queen and U2, I think we would have been a footnote. One of the lost acts, really. So I don’t really think it was that important. I don’t regret not being part of it. Not at all.

I was 15 at the time of Live Aid and probably just a bit too young to consider going on my own or with some friends. I have no older siblings so couldn’t tag along with them and even though my Dad was only 38 at the time, he showed no interest at all (other than watching it on telly!). Still, I remember the great vibe of the day resonating through the nation’s TV screens. Music was still at the centre of it all in 1985.

55 responses to Saturday Deluxe / 13 July 2019

  1. deceased says:

    Hey Paul, any idea when the Chris Murphy interview will be published?

    I’m desperate for more info on the reissue campaign & hoping it isn’t going to be vinyl-only like Dekadance…

  2. Cris says:

    I agree with a friend who says that the crucial five years of music basically Synthpop, New Wave and New Romantics were the period 1978 – 1983.
    I would certainly add 1984 as well.

  3. Cris says:

    I agree that Live baby Live as a live album is quite disappointing… It doesn ‘t give the live feel. But I guess that’ s the way they did it in those days (see DD’ s terrible Arena…)
    A real shame for somebody like me who never had the chance to see INXS live who, I am sure, must have been a real force of Nature.

    Live Aid was such an emotion. I too videotaped so much of it. I thought I had not moved from home all day, but actually I am sure I must have moved even though I do not remember doing so and gone to see a friend, because I have a clear image of watching Spandau’ s Virgin on his TV set in his living room with other guys…
    Music History, indeed.
    George Michael so stupendous and professional and emotively involved as always notwithstanding Jagger’ s idiotic comments; he introduced me to WLTSGDOM. I found Jones, Kershaw, Sting and Ferry a bit lost on that enormous stage, but I am sure if I watch them again now I would appreciate them more.
    Simple Minds and Phil Collins “saved” and WERE the American Leg.

    • Dave B says:

      Yep, INXS were 100% a force of nature live. Over the years I’ve seen many great musicians/bands in a live setting (The Stones, McCartney, Fleetwood Mac, New Order, The Cure to name but five of hundreds), but I have never experienced a tighter live unit, able to exploit dynamics OR a more ridiculously charismatic frontman than when watching INXS.

      They were/are far from my favourite band, but I still recall how shockingly good they were as a live act with Hutchence out front.

  4. Patrick says:

    I remember the Inxs gig being a big deal at the time. I listened to it broadcast live on Radio One. There was at least an hour of build up broadcast before the show kicked off with interviews with excited fans etc. I used to have a copy taped off radio of the recording. The live LP ‘Live Baby Live’ is generally regarded as a bit duff. Reason is probably that Inxs were one of those bands that were so tight they managed to reproduce a slick studio sound live (or at least on clips I have seen) so perhaps the live album did not suit them or provide much variation for listeners.

    • Jim says:

      The INXS album of the same name wasn’t the actual show that released on dvd. It was a live compilation from the preceding 5-6 years. Basically a total cock up from the band management.

  5. Ronan says:

    Paul Young’s performance at Live Aid was when American tv cut in live to Wembley. He was number one in the U.S. with ETYGA by the end of that month. Terrific timing!

  6. Cosmo Castanza says:

    However Live Aid was flawed and dissected by the critics and media …..so what

    It was like nothing before or since.
    The biggest bands live on TV all day and evening.
    It was a true one off experience.

    It shows the sad state of 21st century music that Live 8 was concluded with Floyd , The Who and Macca.

  7. Kevin Galliford says:

    I remember on the morning of Live Aid going into town to buy a pack of TDK90 blank cassettes from WHS & recording my favourites all day & night. I loved Bryan Ferry’s set, David Bowie too especially the arrangement of “Heroes” with Thomas Dolby & Kevin Armstrong on guitar ( Why was he never a proper member of Tin Machine? ). I always loved the Duran Duran set that was on at stupid o’clock despite Le Bon’s Bum note.
    Can’t wait to see the Hutchence documentary too! They were a great band & I saw them in 1997 in Cardiff Bay before a load of flats got built there, supported by the Brand New Heavies I remember because I met Siedah Garret after their set. Very pleasant woman!

  8. daveid76 says:

    It has recently become popular to see Live Aid as the great divider between the “better” early 80s and the “crapper” late 80s. Of course this is only partly true. There was of course a wealth of great music in the later part of the decade and plenty of new innovation, but perhaps it was Live Aid that helped bring about a more commodified, money-minded approach to the business. Certainly music seems a bit less adventurous, less quirky and maybe more risk-averse after this point. The visual side is more important, the sound more important than the message, perhaps.

  9. MinkStoll says:

    I was shocked how the gutter press absolutely savaged Deborah Harry the next day. She had gained weight and wore an unflattering outfit. It was cruel, but her appearance had changed quite a lot from October 1989 when she started promoting Def Dumb and Blonde.

  10. Kittens69 says:

    David Mallet is an interesting one. An incredible body of work (Bowie and Tina Turner music vids et al), but in reality an average to poor director. He’s got great gift of the gab I’ll give him that, however he is famous (or should I say infamous) for getting as many cameras on it as he possibly can and then spending weeks and months putting it together in the edit (which for us TV folk is both a bit of a cheat and hugely expensive). Good Directors can ‘call’ cuts as they go (something required for live TV shows) which explains why he’s Directed so few actual ‘live’ TV shows like ‘Live Aid’ (although he did Direct the ‘Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert’ which really is a shambles on second viewing!). He’s done plenty of full length concerts cut together in the edit (although to many of us his work rather lacks the spontaneity and spice only live cutting can bring). The INXS show sadly falls in to this category; band at their peak let down by leaden and lazy Directing.

  11. Gisabun says:

    Live Aid was also at various other locations around the globe including Canada, Russia, Japan, etc. Quite a few bands who should or could of been there were not asked or couldn’t appear. Rollins Stones, Aerosmith, Foreigner, Yes, and Marillion [they were up on the charts with Kayleigh].

    • Robert Laversuch says:

      Also Big Country. Sir Bob had thought they had split up so he never bothered to ask.

    • Billie Kaye says:

      Unbelievable to see that the above comment by ‘Gisabun’ has been published. Not only is it full of false claims, it’s pure ignorance. ‘Live Aid’ was held in Philadelphia and London only. You must be confusing it with ‘Live 8’. The majority of The Rolling Stones members did perform at Live Aid, albeit not as The Rolling Stones. Once again this kind of false news creeps in and isn’t filtered out by the editor in chief or challenged by the rest of the forum community. Pure ignorance. Check your facts before commenting.

  12. Tom m hans says:

    Sting, Branford Marsalis, Phil Collins and Bad by U2 changed my life forever. To me those are timeless performances. “Holly came from Miami to L.A.” still sounds weird to me when sung by Lou Reed… I was 17 then and still get goosebumps watching those performances on YouTube. Peace.

  13. Colin says:

    I have a 4CD set of the Live Aid in London (best of at least) part of the Global Jukebox! I was 14 and never even considered going as London was too far from Manchester. I watched it on TV and video recorded the bits my cousin didn’t want to. This was because our own vhs recorder was broke so I went to my cousins house to watch the day unfold! Even now all these years later we still chat about that day when we meet up. My cousin thought the best vocals on the day were George Michael and we both really enjoyed Nik Kershaw as we had seen him Live on The Riddle tour the previous December (my first ever gig). I missed the end as my Dad was driving me home! How could the mic fail on Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft? Such bad luck! Didn’t seem to harm hid career though which cannot be said for Adam Ant – Vive Le Rock indeed? What wad he thinking???? and what about Frankie? Dif he say no or wasn’t he asked? The fairlight seems to be the excuse for Frankie. Id Live Aid the movie the next big thing? Should be possible nowadays! It would be an EPIC movie!

  14. Tim South says:

    Paul/folks , regarding INXS reissue wishes , i’d like the work they did with Jimmy Barnes on the “Lost Boys” film to also be considered. “Good Times” gets an airing on compilation albums but “Laying down the Law” is an overlooked song .

    • Bryan Barker says:

      I second that one, Tim! Amazing song!

      • Tim South says:

        Thank you Bryan for your message buddy. The thing is about “Laying down the Law” , its written by the Jimmy and INXS. I suppose it’s overlooked during the course of the film but it’s no coincidence that it features as the fourth song on the album soundtrack…….

  15. jason says:

    There were a lot of great bands in 1985 that didn’t appear, most likely because they weren’t asked. The Cure, The Smiths, New Order, Echo & the Bunnymen, Depeche Mode, the Banshees…a lot of the greatest music of the era that was probably considered too “alternative” to make an impression on America (they would have just edited them down in the US anyhow). Thomas Dolby tells a good story about playing in Bowie’s band and the journey into the stadium by helicopter (Bowie was terrified of flying), and then having to play the first notes of his performance…

    • Dr Volume says:

      The Cure, The Smiths, New Order and Bunnymen had all had a few top 20 hits between them but they weren’t big enough for Live Aid – in 85 they would have been playing theatres and student union venues with 2,000 capacity at best. Depeche had had their run of pop hits but hadn’t quite morphed into the Stadium act that you see on Depeche 101. Morrissey was vocally opposed to Live Aid (not surprisingly), New Order had only really had ‘Blue Monday’ by 1985 and were notoriously erratic as a live band. I really can’t imagine Ian McCulloch at Live Aid in a million years and The Cure in 1985 weren’t anywhere near as big as The Cure that just headlined Glastonbury last week. Dire Straits, Howard Jones, Nik Kershaw, Spandau and Sade were way bigger than all those acts which is why they were at Wembley in 1985. I guess Bob took a bit of a punt on Simple Minds and U2 who were both breaking through into stadiums in ’85 but weren’t quite household names yet

  16. Magoo says:

    Saw INXS in 1993 at Forum Kentish town.
    Unbelievably good.
    Then short while after at Golders green for a BBC in Concert.
    Paula Yates was sitting a few rows back, again unreal performance. Brought two tickets in HMV Oxford circus seem to remember.
    Also MAX Q VHS here somewhere.

  17. Phil Morris says:

    I played the 5 Jellyfish tracks from that Wembley gig which appeared on the Bellybutton double disc reissue today. I have Phil Collins to thank for discovering the band when he praised Sturmer’s standing drumming and singing shtick on one of those musicians rate music videos TV panels so prevalent back then. On the evening of Live Aid I was at the Marquee seeing IQ, who as well as donating the gig proceeds to the cause had a big screen showing the event in lieu of a support act.

    • Graham says:

      I was at that IQ gig as well. From memory, they did two sets – one of their own ,material & then the second of cover versions.

  18. Michael says:

    I read an interview recently with the director of the Michael Hutchence documentary. His daughter is not getting any money from the estate. None. I would not support buying any INXS material on this basis. It sounds like there are real crooks/con men involved.

    I saw them live a couple of times. Really good. And saw him in the street as well. Very tall.

    Watched Live Aid on tv all 24 hours or whatever it was. My favourites were George Michael who was flawless. Tina Turner. Madonna & the video from Prince. With the slow version of 4 the tears in your eyes. The show really did show who stood out & who didn’t. And Tears For Fears guy was right many did not.

  19. Paul Taylor says:

    I can imagine Live Aid was a bit of a nightmare to book. I think Roland’s assessment of TFF’s dilemma was spot on and not everyone could take part. I don’t even think everyone on the Band Aid single performed on the big day.
    I remember watching it on TV and listening to it in stereo simultaneously on the radio – this was groundbreaking in the years before NICAM was available everywhere!!
    I also remember reading Phil Lynott took it badly that he/Thin Lizzy weren’t asked, especially being fellow Dubliners. To be fair they had split two years earlier but others have pondered if things would have turned out better for him if they had taken part that day. Unfortunately we’ll never know.

  20. Nigel M says:

    I also went to the gig. People forget what a brilliant line up it was. Blondie, Jesus Jones, Roachford, Hothouse Flowers, Jellyfish and more. I bought two T shirts on the day which I still have somewhere. I spotted myself dancing on the video. A claim to fame I still bore people with to this day. By the way, I was also “in” the live Michael Jackson video for Another Part Of Me at Wembley Stadium and the TV transmission of the Duran Duran gig at the Eden Project. I also won Bits and Pieces at the Radio 1 Roadshow in Newquay. Might this be an interesting conversation to have to see who else out there have spotted themselves at concerts that have been broadcast/released on video.

    • Bruce Nicholson says:

      I think on the day it was Deborah Harry (she was between the Def Dumb and Blonde 1989 album and Debravation album 1993) not Blondie who were still a few years away from reforming, though the set was Blondie heavy. A few years later – perhaps round about 2002 – Blondie and INXS did a joint headline tour. I may be wrong about this but they swapped headline slots on the tour.

  21. Kevin says:

    Yes, the Live Aid performances included on the DVD were released digitally—but the audio is brickwalled with frequent clipping. The files require additional processing to make them listenable. The only consolation is that the price was only ten bucks.

    • Paul Taylor says:

      I believe Geldof didn’t want the footage kept for future use, and the DVD was produced from camera footage not necessarily seen on TV but recorded (a cheeky/devious BBC move!)

      • OberonOZ says:

        I understand that the only way Geldof could negotiate his way through record company and band management politics was to promise that it would not be recorded and released. All the TV broadcasters were supposed to destroy their footage of it. The fact that some didn’t is why we have anything like footage of it at all.

  22. Stephen says:

    Would love the Max Q album issued. My favourite Michael Hutchence related material.

  23. Alan Jones says:

    Why I didn’t try to get a ticket I don’t know? Instead I watched on telly and recorded the “whole thing” on cassette and VHS with the highlight for me being Simple Minds. Every 13th of July since it raises the hairs on the back of my neck and I find myself saying “We’re live in London”.

  24. Andrew Mills says:

    Really looking forward to reading the Chris Murphy interview. Max Q: one of the great, lost, classic albums of the 80s.

  25. lama says:

    INXS sort of played Live Aid as well , as they were a part of the australian show the day before

  26. Darren says:

    INXS are looooooong overdue a reissue campaign! Looking forward to the Dekadance and the Mystify”soundtrack”.

    • Neil Stewart says:

      Dekadance slipped out on vinyl last month unannounced. I was delighted to unexpectedly find a copy at my local HMV

  27. Robert says:

    if you’re wearing a t-shirt you bought at the INXS Wembley gig, I am very impressed it still fits!

  28. Alan says:

    Of course despite not appearing at Live Aid, they were listed on the poster.

  29. Paul Spurgeon says:

    There’s an absolutely superb 2 part documentary the BBC did years ago called against all odds, check it out it goes through the miracle of it ever happening with the 2nd part covering the concert itself.

    Bob geldof had some cheek announcing live on radio 1 the acts who were confirmed when in fact along with tears for dears hasn’t even been asked yet!

    Brilliant

    • Mark says:

      I just literally watched the Live Aid documentary again yesterday for the fifth time – very fascinating documentary about how it all came together – definitely worth a watch for anyone interested in the story behind it all.

  30. Kevin says:

    Glad to hear there may be a decent reissue campaign happening for INXS. They are truly one of the great bands with a powerful and charismatic frontman/vocalist. I will occasionally get choked up whenever one of their songs comes up on my phone, thinking about what we lost. That said, I was ultimately very disappointed with the remastering on Kick 30. I’ve never checked out those remastered two-fers from 2005 (I think?), so I can’t speak to those. But, I really think the audio on Kick 30 (on the album proper anyway, the b-sides/remixes seemed okay, I guess) was overly compressed and blown-out. I’m actually considering selling it. I really feel that the Shine Like It Does anthology has the best remastering.

  31. Graham says:

    I was at Inxs at Wembley too. Great gig. Jesus Jones rocked as a support band.

  32. gwynogue says:

    Regarding the INXS Wembley footage…I bought the recent (well, a few years ago now) Australian DVD reissue and was quite disappointed – it was supposedly given a spit’n’polish and presented in widescreen…but when I watched it, it was still in 4:3 and didn’t look/sound any better than my mid-00’s DVD release. I thought I may have been given a new copy mixed with an old disc, but it looked like the new version disc. Does anyone else have the same problem?

  33. GTR says:

    The ‘Live Baby Live’ album was a real disappointment to me. Some of the tracks had already been released as b-sides and it didn’t feel like an INXS gig does (which it wasn’t – it was more of a live compilation). ‘Shining Star’ was good though, always enjoyed that one. They deserved a better live album during their career.

    Wish they would get their act together and open up the archives. They were a great b sides band as the solo tracks showed different sides to them (such as the brilliant ‘Begotten’). As Paul suggests things do seem to be happening though. ‘Dekadance’ is coming out on vinyl this summer and it’s the cassette version from Oz (with ‘Jackson’ on it). Never had this on vinyl or cd before. Bodes well for other non-‘Kick’ releases.

    • mike says:

      Rocking With The Royals from 1985 on iTunes is far more like INXS live, i found Live Baby Live to not be the band at their best. Live gigs with the reissues would be fabulous!

      • GTR says:

        I agree…’Rocking with the Royals’ is superb. Still have it on an old VHS from when it was shown on the BBC late one night. The version of ‘Burn For You’ on there is brilliant.

        Just remembered that Keith Urban sings backing vocals on ‘Shining Star’.

  34. WillW says:

    Summer Xs was my first gig. I didn’t realise how important for INXS it was when I went and loved my vhs copy. I still have the cassette that Jellyfish sent out by post before the gig.

    • Fred van de Peppel says:

      Thanks for mentioning Jellyfish, as far as i’m concerned one of the most underrated live bands (drummer being the lead singer standing up on the front of the stage , amazing!)
      Great powerpop with lots of great harmonies, anyway, check Youtube…

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