Man, what is it about Grinspoon? Even as I’m writing this, I’m blasting their tunes on Spotify and it’s getting me way too hyped for a show that I already went to. If I can, I’d like to use that as a reference point for the pre-show atmosphere at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre on Friday night- it wasn’t just excitement and nostalgia in the air. It was 20 years of stories, of memories associated with this legendary band and their now iconic debut album.
From the hectic merch line to the life sized A Guide To Better Living album cover/genius selfie prop, the venue was a hive of activity by the time Brissy alt rockers Good Boy stormed the stage. The three piece pumped out tracks from their 2016 EP No Love For Back Home, and new single ‘Braap’.
The surf rock vibes continued with Illawarra duo Hockey Dad, who never fail to deliver a tight set and good times at their live shows. The crowd began to move as they busted out choice cuts from their charming full length, Boronia. Both support acts were great picks, equally stoked to be opening up for the legendary Grinners, the first ever winners of Triple J’s Unearthed comp back in 1995.
Which brings us to the main event. I couldn’t tell you how many Grinspoon shows I’ve been to, nor how many different (varying levels of embarrassing) phases of my life they’ve been there with me through. Despite this, when the four of them took to the stage, I was involuntarily screaming like a teen in the throes of obsession. But so was everyone else. As the band swung into the furious opening chords of ‘Pressure Tested 1984’, groups of adult men could be seen nearby, excitedly clutching each other, giving their best imitations of Phil Jamieson’s guttural snarls.
Speaking of Phil, (mine and everyone’s high school rock star crush), how exactly does his voice still carry that snotty brat quality so well after decades of performance? How does this man, who contracted bronchitis leading up to the tour, so effortlessly switch between throaty bellows and soft, melodic crooning? We may never know. He strutted around the stage like he’d never left it, diving into the crowd during ‘DCx3’, into the midst of a mosh pit as crazy as any I’ve seen at metal and hardcore shows.
The band pumped out track after track, not missing a beat (muscle memory?) as they tore through songs from an album that is two decades old. Memorable moments included my ears almost popping when everyone screamed “HA-PPY BIRTH-DAY” in unison during ‘Pedestrian’, the euphoria that washed over the crowd during cheerful anthem ‘Just Ace’, and the absolute madness that ensued after we were asked, “So you wanna be a champion?”
They wrapped up A Guide To Better Living to an audience screaming uproariously for more. But Grinners weren’t anywhere near done with us. Jamieson, along with bassist Joe Hansen, guitarist Pat Davern and drummer Kristian Hopes returned to the stage to bless us with some (very choice) selections from their array of hits including ‘Chemical Heart’, ‘Lost Control’, ‘Ready 1’, ‘Hard Act To Follow’ and ‘1000 Miles’. Each track was played seamlessly. Jamieson’s voice didn’t falter once throughout despite it being an extremely vocally diverse setlist. But that’s Grinspoon. How they can be responsible for as many party anthems as they are teen angst ragers and beautiful love ballads, is a testament to their prowess as a band and the reason for their longevity.
Few other acts could tour a 90s alt-rock album and sell out almost every date. Even fewer acts could rival Grinspoon’s impact and lasting influence on the Australian music scene. But that’s Grinners. Genre straddling, vibe curating champions who’s shows are too good to miss, whether it’s your first time or your twentieth.
The band have been mum on whether there’s new music on the way, but whatever is next for Grinspoon, we’re all tuned in and keen to see. So guys, Don’t Go Away again, and we won’t call it a Comeback. We know even when you’re away; you’re never really gone.