by Luke Voogt
Playing an INXS concert is like jamming at a huge party for Don’t Change lead singer Blair Dwyer.
“We treat each show like we’re hosting a party and it’s up to us to make sure they have a great night,” he said.
“What we’ve taken out of INXS’s performances is just how vibrant they were.
“It was purely up to the six blokes on stage to give a good performance – that’s what we try to do.
“So it would be remiss of us to stand there like stunned mullets, and it’s not unlike us to jump off the stage and join the crowd.”
The tribute band comes to the Wool Exchange at 8pm on Saturday night to play hits like Original Sin, Listen Like Thieves, Need You Tonight and… the list goes on.
After almost three years together the band was stopping in Geelong for the first time on their national Slide Over Here tour, Dwyer said.
“We didn’t know the crowds would get bigger and the tours would get larger, we were just doing it for fun. Now we get to play the Wool Exchange!”
But performing at the “grandiose” venue also has a personal importance for the lead singer, who grew up in Ocean Grove and Geelong.
His father, 3GL presenter and promoter Don ‘Mad Dog’ Dwyer, helped the band land the gig before his death last year.
“It was actually dad that got this show for us at the Wool Exchange,” Dwyer said.
“The last time I spoke to dad on the phone he was saying, ‘it looks like I’ve got you a gig at the Wooly’.”
Dwyer moved to Perth as a teenager before joining a local band. He has been an actor and original musician since.
He had a lead role in Tail Job, a 2016 Sydney action-comedy that took him to Cannes Film Festival, he said.
At the end of 2016 Dwyer made a New Year’s Eve resolution to say “yes to everything… within reason” that led to him joining Don’t Change.
“On 2 January I got a random phone call asking if I would audition for an INXS tribute,” he said.
“Given it was only two days into my NYE resolution, I said yes.”
Before the audition Dwyer realised he “solidly” knew at least 20 INXS songs.
“It’s a tone that suits my vocal abilities even better than my own original music,” he said.
Onstage his voice mirrors Michael Hutchence and he even skips around like the world-famous front man.
The band would go on to play in front of 20,000 people at Hunter Stadium for Newcastle Jets before an A-League game and appear twice on Foxtel’s The Tribute Show.
Playing a tribute gig was much easier than performing original music, Dwyer explained.
“You’re not trying to win anyone over, you’re just enjoying the music. We’re privileged to play these songs which are so high-energy.”
And it wouldn’t be an INXS show without the classics Don’t Change and Never Tear Us Apart.
“(Never Tear Us Apart is) one of those songs where I just want to turn the mike over and let the crowd sing,” Dwyer said.
“But I don’t think I’d get away with that.”