Review by Ben Connolly
There’s a workman like edge to the stage as the steady four piece of Northern NSW’s Grinspoon launched into their set. The wild flailing and feigned punk-rock disinterest from frontman Phil Jamieson are long gone, in its stead are the once-ironic rock poses: the furious grip on the mic stand, the perfectly timed lunge on to the stage monitors and, crucially, the almost trademarked index finger thrust decisively skyward.
“Workman-like” isn’t necessarily derogatory. Here it points to a ballsy longevity which has seen its particular brand of skate-punk survive where countless others have faded away. The ‘Spoon is the sound of Triple J, coming of age along with the fledgling youth broadcaster when both were still in proverbial nappies. Easily considered the band most likely to burn out in a blaze of glory – thanks largely to the well publicised excesses of Jamieson – the group not only survived, but has managed to cross over the Great FM Divide and is now, justifiably, entering into legacy territory.
It’s a legacy which sees its live shows evolve into little more than a jubilant jukebox of hits and memories. Sure, there’s a new album to shop, last year’s Black Rabbits, but save for a brief early set nod, this is a cavalcade of tunes which have soundtracked hundreds of roadtrips and countless Hottest 100s.
A straight bat is rendered to set opener Ready 1, still as vital and captivating as ever. Black Friday and Rock Show are hectic, and given over to a crowd as rabid as that which has greeted the foursome over its lifetime. Fists are raised in furious fashion, threatening a boom camera which is floating above the crowd.
The straight bat is walloped up and down the setlist, with not a reinvention or reinterpretation in sight. Save, though, for the now customary stripped back version of poppy curio Just Ace, giving it the air of a playful Pixies take. It’s a moment of light relief among an almost claustrophobic run of three minute pop-punk gems: Hard Act To Follow, 1000 Miles, More Than You Are, Chemical Heart, Champion and Post Inebriated Anxiety.
There’s a buzz of static zipping through the crowd at this point, with nary a breather for the better part of an hour. The bar and toilet lines are all but dried up and this enigma of a band tightly grips the entire collective by the short and curlies. This is not merely a cashing-in hits and memories package, but a serious statement of intent, hell-bent on screaming loud and clear what the ‘Spoon means to the Oz music landscape. Gone are the half-buzzed boys, but the fire in the eyes is still is strong. They’re in their mid-30s, have families, mortgages, responsibilities; for all intents and purposes, this is their day job, and they’ve finally started taking it seriously. For some, that can spell the beginning of the end. Will that happen with Grinspoon? Who knows. But for the moment, if that manifests itself in a scorchingly convincing strine singing about a dead cat to close a blistering set, so be it. It’s a nice place to be.
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Grinspoon @ Enmore Theatre, Sydney – August 10, 2013
Photos by Heather McNab for Life Music Media