Live and accessible
ACCORDING to Jon Farriss, you often only recognise a real rock star moment after the moment has passed.
Farriss would surely know. After decades with Aussie rock legends INXS he has had his share.
‘‘Mick Jagger came to a show that we did at a club in New York in about 1983 with Shabooh Shoobah,’’ Farriss says.
‘‘Back then he was a presence. I was so amazed that he would make the effort to come to an INXS show and he seemed so genuinely interested in the music.
‘‘Then in Sydney I was actually hanging out with him in his hotel room at the Sebel Townhouse, which now doesn’t exist, and he was singing to me his ideas and demos for Steel Wheels about three inches from my face! Some of the greatest rock star moments aren’t apparent until they are over.’’
Jagger and his Rolling Stones are top of Farriss’ wish list to appear as guests on the longrunning XYZ series MAX Sessions, which he has just stepped in to host.
Farriss replaces Chit Chat, from Machine Gun Fellatio, who in turn replaced the late Crowded House drummer Paul Hester.
While the hosting role is new— Farriss makes his debut on Sunday in an episode featuring Snow Patrol — it’s not his first appearance on the show.
‘‘INXS did a MAX Sessions with (new lead singer) JD (Fortune) in 2006,’’ he says.
‘‘It’s just a great institution and great to have the opportunity for international and local bands to perform in an environment which not many shows offer. This is the real thing.’’
Launched in November 2003 with an intimate performance by British super group Coldplay, Ses- sions quickly cemented itself as MAX’s flagship show and has since showcased nearly 40 artists ranging from Blondie, Moby and Michael Buble, to brothers Tim and Neil Finn, Delta Goodrem, the John Butler Trio and Keith Urban.
‘‘I think it always had a great chance of success from the beginning because it was born out of pure intentions,’’ MAX program director Rachel Newman says.
‘‘It really was and is about serving a genuine audience desire as well as, to a lesser degree, supporting our local music industry. But what I think has kept it alive and kept it really relevant is that at no time have we compromised our production values.
‘‘They are of the highest possible standard; producing live music is our expertise.’’
Newman names a Sessions highlight as a concert by Australian rockers Powderfinger on the steps of Sydney Opera House, which raised money and awareness for breast cancer research, along with the series debut by Coldplay, who ‘‘set the bar very high’’.
This weekend’s episode featuring Snow Patrol is another highlight.
‘‘We’ve had a particularly strong year this year. It just really depends on artist availability, how long they are in town for and how long we can have access to them.’’
Despite the success INXS had with the Mark Burnett-produced series Rock Star: INXS in 2005 — a format talent show that found the band its new lead singer — Farriss had never considered fronting a show.
‘‘It’s one of those little square inches of opportunity that you get. I was playing a concert as a guest artist with Richard Clapton at the State Theatre and Shaun James, the general manager of XYZ, called me later and said let’s meet for a coffee.
‘‘We talked about a bit of this, a bit of that and the next thing he goes, ‘How about you presenting MAX Sessions’?’’
To the MAX:
(from left) Jon Farriss with fellow INXS members Kirk Pengilly and JD Fortune.