Review and Photos by Meghan Player
Admittedly, I was 9 years old the year Grinspoon released their debut album, ‘Guide to Better Living’, so I can’t say with certainty where I was when I first heard it. What I do know is how much this band and their music shaped a better part of my teenage years, and now adult life.
Being from a country NSW town, your exposure to bands who have actually been on the radio is limited – often necessitating hours of travel to the nearest city to see anything other than your legal studies teacher thinking he can play drums like John Bonham.
Grinspoon were one of the few bands that would tour regionally – often playing multiple dates in towns that were within driving distance of each other. Meaning, that you could easily pack your mates into a car, see three shows in three days in three towns and still get to sleep in your own bed each night (fun fact: I’ve done this). It was for this reason that the band earned my love and respect.
Tonight, it seems only fitting to travel to Melbourne to cover one of the first Grinspoon “reunion” shows, celebrating the 20-year anniversary of this defining album.
This tour is the bands first official tour, since briefly reforming to support Cold Chisel in 2015. And without a doubt, the time away seems to have left the band chomping at the bit.
Opener, ‘Pressure Tested 1984’ hits the room with so much force and ferocity, the audience is transported back to those tiny pub shows in the late 90s.
While a majority of the crowd spring to life during some of the more “well known” tracks – ‘DC3’, ‘Just Ace’, ‘Champion’ – the simple act of being reminded how good ‘Repeat’, ‘Pedestrian’ and ‘Sickfest’ are, is worth the ticket price.
‘Post Enebriated Anxiety’ (see: top 3 Grinspoon songs) never feels out of place in the bands set, and is an excellent example of their core song structure – blast it out for two minutes, give us a chance to breathe, blast it out again. Superb.
Contrasting to the heavy, guttural, angst-fuelled sounds of their youth, the band are all smiles tonight – and are a joy to watch; the rapturous applause and appreciation from the crowd seeming to bode well.
While the first set runs through where the band started, a second set runs us through key tracks of the career that followed. ‘Chemical Heart’, ‘Lost Control’, ‘1000 Miles’ and ‘More Than You Are’ make the cut – rounding out a solid set of songs that could arguably be, the best of the best.
What is most noticeable about tonight is the songs that were released on ‘Guide to Better Living’; and seeing how a handful of them have continued to be a part of the bands live sets, 20 years since their inception. Even more so, is realizing that in a way, the band never really lost their grunge roots. While they’ve dabbled in a more “commercially viable” sound over the years, the heart and soul of one of the hardest working, in-your-face, rock bands we’ve produced, is very much alive and kicking.
Undoubtedly, Grinspoon are back, baby. And they’re going to drink all of your milkshake.