I love INXS! They were one of my favorite bands during my teenage years. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to see the original line up of INXS – including Michael Hutchence – live.
So, when I heard there was an INXS cover band coming to The Queen (which is one of my favorite venues) and the tickets were free, I thought it would be fun to go.
But then, my husband (and concert buddy) had something come up for the weekend, and I was faced with going to the show alone. Should I still go? Well, you know my mantra is #JustBuyTheTickets, so of course I went.
Was seeing an INXS cover band worth my time? Did I survive my solo concert experience? Keep reading to find out!
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HISTORY OF THE VENUE
The Queen is located in Wilmington, DE – right in the heart of its downtown area. Downtown Wilmington has gone through quite a resurgence over the last several years. There are new restaurants, a revived music scene with The Queen and The Grand, and even a new microbrewery.
The building that The Queen currently occupies has quite a history. It was built in the 1800s as a hotel. In 1916, the building was converted to a movie theater, as many venues were at the time. The building closed its doors in 1959 and sat empty for the next 50 years.
In 2011, the venue reopened under the name of World Café Live at the Queen. The owners and operators of World Café Live in Philadelphia took possession of the venue to bring live music to Wilmington. As you can imagine, after a building has sat vacant for 50 years, a massive renovation was required. About $25 million was spent to restore the building and turn it into a 2-story music venue.
While operating as World Café Live at the Queen, the venue featured a smaller and fully-seated upstairs room, that also served as a restaurant. The larger downstairs area was able to handle about 800 people at full capacity.
In early 2017, World Café Live announced that they were no longer able to operate the venue. In the announcement regarding the closure, World Café Live president Hal Real stated that despite their attempt to operate the venue as a seven-day-a-week operation, they were unable to do so.
After several months of the building being empty, Live Nation announced that it was taking over operation of the building. Renamed as simply “The Queen”, the venue is now part of Live Nation’s House of Blues division.
THE VENUE TODAY
As for the venue itself, Live Nation has made some major changes. They’ve redone the box office/merchandise area. The restaurant in the upstairs area is no longer open unless there is an event. We attended a pre-show VIP part in the upstairs room for a show earlier this year. While the food was decent and the bar was open, for that event Live Nation had removed most of the tables and chairs, so there were very few places to sit.
In the downstairs part of the venue, Live Nation has only made some minor changes. They’ve kept the beautiful historic touches of the building intact.
As for artists, Live Nation has clearly used the power of its brand to bring some larger acts to the venue like Blues Traveler, Blue October, Arrested Development and others.
Tip #1: Parking to attend a show at The Queen is usually quite easy to find. There is street parking available in the area. Be sure to read the signs and pay the meters accordingly, although most street parking is free after 6:00 p.m. If you don’t see parking on Market Street, try checking some of the streets around the block in the general vicinity. There are also several lots, as well as a parking garage nearby.
Tip #2: If you want to get dinner before the show, there are a couple of restaurants right on Market Street in downtown Wilmington. They are all within easy walking distance of The Queen. We’ve eaten at Chelsea Tavern (http://www.chelseatavern.com/) several times, and it’s a great spot with good food and a good drink selection. Stitch House Brewery (https://www.stitchhousebrewery.com/) is also nearby and a great place to grab a beer and some food. If you want to go a little further away, Iron Hill Brewery (https://www.ironhillbrewery.com/wilmington-de) and Joe’s Crab Shack (http://www.joescrabshack.com/locations/10729) are located right next to each other, and are both good. Those options are not within walking distance, so plan your time accordingly. For this particular show, I had a couple glasses of wine and dinner at Merchant Bar (https://www.merchantbarwilmington.com/), which is right across the corner from The Queen.
Tip #3: The Queen does offer a limited food menu. There is a menu hanging on the wall at the right end of the bar. To get food, place your order with the bartender. There is a small table in the back next to the bar with a heat lamp. Your food will come out and be set down there. It’s self-serve to pick up.
KICK – THE INXS EXPERIENCE
ABOUT THE ARTIST
KICK is an INXS cover band made up of Corey Massi (lead vocals), Johnny Dee (drums), Todd King (guitar/vox), Jason Taylor (guitar/vox), Don Leslie (bass), Mark Goodnough (keyboards), and Tom Wheat (saxophone).
As most people know, INXS was one of the biggest bands of the 1980’s. With hits like “What You Need”, “Suicide Blonde”, and “Need You Tonight”, their music was on constant rotation on radio stations and MTV. Unfortunately, lead singer Michael Hutchence struggled with depression, drugs and alcohol. It all led to his apparent suicide in November of 1997. While the band has continued on with other lead singers, INXS has never regained the success it had with Hutchence at the helm.
Massi has always been a big fan of INXS and Micheal Hutchence. In fact, Massi auditioned for Rockstar: INXS in 2004. The show had contestants audition to become the new front man for INXS. Ultimately, the winner of the contest was JD Fortune and not Massi. However, Massi’s love for INXS only grew even greater through the process of competing on the show.
In 2013, Massi was attending a Aerosmith tribute band show, when he came up with the idea of doing the same thing for INXS. Massi tapped into some fellow musicians and friends, and within 10 months KICK was formed and performing. KICK strives to recreate the music of INXS faithfully during its live shows.
Being solo gave me one big advantage. I showed up to the show at about 7:45 p.m. (with an 8:00 p.m. start time), and I was able to find a spot for myself right up on the stage. My spot was just in front of where Todd King (guitarist) was standing.
There was no opening act, and KICK took the stage just after 8:00 p.m. They started in with INXS hit “New Sensation” and went right into “Kick”.
My first impression of KICK was that they sounded a lot like INXS. They played the songs the way they were originally recorded. The use of Goodnough’s keyboards and Wheat’s saxophone was perfect on several of the songs.
As for Massi, he sounds a lot like Michael Hutchence. He’s also clearly trying to physically give the image that he’s Hutchence. Massi has the long dark hair that Hutchence always had. He was dressed in leather pants and a button up shirt like you often saw on Hutchence. Massi also has some of the signature gestures and moves that Hutchence had on stage.
What I liked about KICK’s set, was that they covered everything for every fan. They played all of the hits that any casual INXS fan would want to hear like “Suicide Blonde” and “Devil Inside”. They also covered some B sides like “Kiss The Dirt”, for the deep track fans. KICK also played songs that were minor hits and you might have forgotten. When they played “The Stairs”, I realized I had forgotten about that song all these years later, even though it was one of my favorites at the time. The words immediately came back to me.
KICK clearly loves what they do, and the crowd responded. I was surprised at how many people around me seemed to be familiar with the guys in the band. It probably helps that drummer Johnny Dee is from Philly and Massi is from Maple Shade, NJ, so they had a little bit of a home crowd advantage. Nevertheless, the room was packed and the crowd danced and sang along all night.
Massi said that it had been 3 years since they had been in Wilmington, and he promised it wouldn’t be as long before they were here the next time. I certainly hope so, because I can’t wait to relive the songs of INXS again!
KICK is almost always on the road sharing the music of INXS with people all over the country. You can keep up with where they are on their website at www.get-kicked.com.
Set List (if you want to relive the music of INXS, click on any link to purchase the INXS version of the song directly on Amazon): New Sensation, Kick, Bitter Tears, The One Thing, Original Sin, Listen Like Thieves, Kiss the Dirt, Mystify, Suicide Blonde, Shine Like It Does, Just Keep Walking, Beautiful Girl, Need You Tonight, Elegantly Wasted, Heaven Sent, Not Enough Time, The Stairs, This Time, Disappear, Searching, To Look At You, I Send a Message, Devil Inside, What You Need, Taste It Encore: Never Tear Us Apart, Don’t Change
Are you an INXS fan? What do you think of KICK – The INXS Experience? How about cover bands in general? Let us know what you think by commenting below or e-mailing me at email@example.com.
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