Live Review : Grinspoon




The Tivoli, Brisbane
Sunday July 09

In recent years a large number of bands have got nostalgic and played iconic early albums in full live in concert in Australia.

The Offspring, Weezer, Helmet, The Used, New Found Glory, Megadeth, The Living End, The Pixies, Anti-Flag, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Silverstein, The Cult, Yellowcard, Things of Stone and Wood, Killswitch Engage, The Tea Party, Underoath and The Jesus and Mary Chain have all celebrated 20-year or 10-year anniversaries of much-loved albums with retrospective shows.

“Guide to Better Living” was released 20 years ago and to celebrate, its creators Grinspoon have come out of retirement to play their debut album in full on an extensive Australian tour, the seventh show of which sees the four-piece band visit Brisbane.

Warming up the punters before the headliners play the sold-out venue are Good Boy and Hockey Dad. Continuing a lineage of neat Brisbane indie-rock acts such as The Melniks and Dollar Bar, fellow locals Good Boy play a short and sweet set of amiable tunes to a pretty sizeable crowd.

With echoes of The Smith Street Band and cool bass lines reminiscent of New Order, Good Boy run through well received tunes like ‘Braap’ before finishing the set with ‘Poverty Line’.

If you took Violent Soho, subtracted a guitarist and a bass player and scaled back the guitar distortion, you might have a band like Hockey Dad.

“Where’s the bass player, there’s no bass”, is heard often in the crowd as the Wollongong duo – singer/guitarist Zach Stephenson and drummer Billy Fleming – run through their set. Fleming’s drumming is a highlight, his long, blonde surfer hair flailing about while he plays frenetically.

The dynamic dudes run through no-fuss tracks from their debut album Bornia, with ‘Can’t Have Them’ and the catchy ‘A Night Out With’ the highlights. The kids might like Hockey Dad but tonight their tunes seem like a hard sell for many audience members up to 25 years their senior.

Grinspoon takes to the stage and the thunderous applause is soon drowned out by Guide to Better Living’s chaotic opening tune, ‘Pressure Tested 1984’.

With singer Phil Jamieson energised and fully animated, the Lismore products then run through all songs from their 1997 debut album from start to finish, the first crowd surfers getting airborne during the second song of the night, ‘Boundary’.

It’s almost surreal to hear rarely performed tunes such as ‘Balding Matters’, ‘Truk’, ‘Railrider’ and ‘Bad Funk Stripe’, featuring a fantastic guitar solo from Pat Davern, alongside Grinspoon set list staples such as ‘DC X 3’, ‘Champion’ and ‘Just Ace’.

Forgotten singles ‘Don’t Go Away’ and ‘Repeat’ also feature, as does the song that started it all for the band, the Triple J Unearthed prize-winning ‘Sickfest’, sounding harder than ever without the harmonious backing vocals of the recorded version.

Anyone in attendance not familiar with Grinspoon may have had trouble deciphering which songs were the band’s hits and which ones weren’t, such is the crowd’s enthusiasm for them all, singing along to tunes like ‘Scalped’ as passionately as ‘Pedestrian’.

Spanning 16 tracks and 48 minutes, Guide to Better Living’s songs could almost sustain a full set-list on its own, but the band rounds out the evening with a seven-song mini ‘best of’ set.

Chemical Heart’ (aptly demonstrating the band’s song writing evolution from its core Better Living sound to more melodic songs), ‘Lost Control’, ‘Ready 1’, ‘No Reason’, ‘1000 Miles’, ‘Hard Act to Follow’ and ‘More Than You Are’ complete a night of joyous nostalgia and fantastic tunes from the revered Aussie rockers.

Words by Lee Oliver
Behind the lens Jordan Aarts




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