It was quite a chilly evening in Melbourne on Friday, June 30th, 2017, however, the sporting and entertainment district was quite busy; not only was the Melbourne Cricket Ground holding an AFL match between the Melbourne Demons and the Sydney Swans, but Grinspoon were also performing at Margaret Court Arena!
Sorry; did I say Margaret Court Arena hosted Grinspoon tonight? Let me clear the air and correct myself before I go any further…
A few hours prior to the doors opening, Grinspoon made an announcement via their Facebook page which read “We here at GSPN HQ believe marriage should be for all…so at tonight’s sold out gig we are selling some special t-shirts with all proceeds going to http://www.australianmarriageequality.org/ “, as well as an image of the VERY special shirt. It’s an altering of their “God Save Grinspoon” shirt, with “GRINSPOON: 20 Years Of Better Living, Fri 30 June – Marriage Equality Arena” added to the otherwise plain shirt back. This reviewer was MORE than happy to part with $40 for a shirt that not only was available tonight only, but EVERY cent of proceeds going towards a most worthy foundation!
“Marriage Equality Arena” played host to the second of thirty-two Grinspoon shows, as they make their way around Australia on the 20th Anniversary of “Guide To Better Living” Tour and it was the first of many sell-out crowds that will be performed to along the way! The tour kicked off Friday 23rd June with a teaser show at Kay Street in Traralgon; however, there was a week-long hiatus between the first and second shows, as well as a new addition to the support act line up!
Rian King (Bass/Vocals), Tom Lindeman (Guitar), and Stu McKenzie (Drums) are the trio who make up Good Boy, who hails all the way from Brisbane, Queensland; that means Melbourne, Victoria is quite a far way from home for these three gentlemen! Even though Good Boy was so far away from home, they weren’t showing any signs of being homesick! This reviewer believes they delivered the first of what will be many amazing opening sets along this tour; if you’re attending a Grinspoon show on this tour, make sure you get there early and see Good Boy as they will not disappoint you; those who missed them tonight will be kicking themselves as they missed out on seeing some new and upcoming talented Australian rockers!
Barring a very small issue with King’s vocals for the first thirty seconds of their set, Good Boy delivered an absolutely flawless performance. When Good Boy walked out on stage at 7:30 pm, there were less than one hundred people present; however by the time they walked off at 8 pm that number had grown to about two hundred and fifty. The small crowd that witnessed the opening two songs of Good Boy’s set most definitely had their heads moving along to the beat and once that momentum started there was no stopping it!
Good Boy mixed up the tempo halfway through the set with “Millie”; a nice groovy slower song that was a pleasant change to the eardrums. However that was short lived, as the newer song “Fishing With A Shotgun” came straight after and that was back to the harder and rawer sound Good Boy displayed for the majority of their set. Good Boy is best described as the love child of an Australian rock group such as “The Living End” and a Southern Californian surfer rock style group, similar to that of “The Beach Boys“.
Thankfully the constantly growing crowd didn’t have to wait long for the Australian rock fest to continue, as Hockey Dad made their way out onto the stage at 8:15 pm.
The duo of Zach Stephenson (Guitar/Vocals) and Billy Fleming (Drums) hail from Windang, New South Wales. Windang resides right next to Lake Illawarra and is approximately 858km southwest of Lismore. Even though there is approximately a 10 hour drive between the two NSW towns that Hockey Dad and Grinspoon call home, Hockey Dad showed why they deserved to be sitting backstage and performing throughout the “Guide To Better Living” 20th Anniversary Tour; as a band that considers themselves to be “surf rock”, they most definitely set the bar high for Grinspoon to follow! The duo was producing such energy that it was hard to believe there were only two people on stage…there was more head-banging from this reviewer than he ever expected to be doing during a “surf rock” performance!
Hockey Dad didn’t have the ideal start to their set, however; Stephenson just so happened to forget his set-list in his jacket pocket backstage, so after the first song he had to ask Fleming what the next song was. This turned into a running joke all through the 45-minute set; every time Stephenson habitually went to look at what was coming next, the audience would laugh at him as he asked Fleming what song was coming up or how many songs they had left. Hockey Dad threw in an unexpected curveball halfway through their set, with Fleming taking the vocal responsibilities for “Sweet Release”.
There was only a thirty-minute wait from when Hockey Dad left the stage to Grinspoon gracing “Marriage Equality Arena” with their presence, but the wait felt more like thirty hours; this was particularly due to there being a very intimate feel to the performance this evening! As it was standing tickets only, “Marriage Equality Arena” had giant black sheets hanging down in front of the seats that circle around the floor area, meaning that the only lighting was from the stage lights.
As soon as Phil Jamieson (Vocals/Guitar), Pat Davern (Guitar), Joe Hansen (Bass) and Kristian Hopes (Drums) walked out onto the stage, the sold-out crowd cheered their lungs out with a mixture of excitement and appreciation; that volume was raised to 11 as Grinspoon opened their set with “Pressure Tested”; Jamieson’s voice was just as fierce and raw tonight as it was twenty years ago during recording!
The crowds energy matched that of Grinspoon on stage; even though there wasn’t much pushing and shoving for the most part in the mosh, the voices of fans ranging from young and old screaming back at Jamieson as the band worked their magic through “Boundary”, “DCx3”, “Sickfest” and “Railrider” was something to behold. The crowd also received their first exposure to multi Co2 cannons that were along the front of the stage during “DCx3”, but it was most definitely not the last time!
Before launching into “Scalped”, Jamieson let the crowd know that the band has never played this song live before this tour, which the crowd reciprocated to with an even louder cheer than they had managed so far.
The energy of Grinspoon was just phenomenal all evening; if Jamieson wasn’t doing his best Peter Garrett style dance moves, he was running around the stage like the Energizer Bunny; Hansen was doing the best that he could to snap a bass string with his fingers whilst really getting the right side of the mosh right into the show, Davern mesmerized the left side of the crowd with his guitar wizardry that hasn’t faded after all these years whilst Hopes overseeing them all on a raised platform, hitting his drum skins and cymbals like a man possessed!
After Jamieson informed the crowd about the back story to “Pedestrian”, Grinspoon then continued working their way through “Guide To Better Living”, as “Just Ace”, “Post Enebriated Anxiety” and “Repeat” all came and went in a blur; the mosh pit had really lifted at this point so security was starting to get their hands full with a growing number of crowd surfers. Grinspoon continued the fast pace and high energy, flying through “NBT”, “Don’t Go Away”, “Balding Matters” and “Bad” just as furiously as the previous ten songs.
“Champion” was introduced to the jumping and hoarse-throated mosh, who somehow managed to rifle up yet another loud cheer that blew the closed roof off! “Truk” finished off the “Guide To Better Living” portion of the set list; the band leaving the stage after forty-five minutes for a well-earned mini-rest. The fans, who of course were eager for more Grinspoon magic, started up the chants of “GRIN-SPOON” and “One More Song!”.
Thankfully Grinspoon didn’t make their fans wait all that long; with Hansen, Davern, and Hopes resuming their positions on the blackened out stage after a few minutes. They weren’t out there long enough for anyone to question the whereabouts of Jamieson, as the band launched into “Protest” and Jamieson had made a quick costume change and was standing at the back of the mosh pit on an elevated platform as he donned an acoustic guitar and sung.
There was a small wait as Jamieson rushed his way back onto the stage before Grinspoon launched into their seven-song encore comprised of fan favourites from over the years!
The first song to be performed was “Chemical Heart”; a very soul enlightening vocal performance by Jamieson was matched by the crowd singing in unison alongside him. The crowd launched back into chaos as Jamieson lead a clap along to introduce “Lost Control”; the security had to work their hardest from this point on in the show! “Ready One” and “No Reason” kept the crowd jumping around before Grinspoon busted out the raw, hard-hitting and in your face “1000 Miles”.
“Hard Act To Follow” was, unfortunately, the second last song of Grinspoon’s set, however, the tiring fans wouldn’t have let you known that; revitalized after “1000 Miles”, the mosh pit descended into a whirlwind of flying bodies and feet being lifted off the floor! The sweaty, hot Grinspoon fans walked out of “Marriage Equality Arena” covered in red confetti that exploded from air cannons during “More Than You Are” as Grinspoon drew their show to a close and walked off stage.
If you were to have closed your eyes and just listened to the performance at ANY stage during the night tonight, you wouldn’t have known that it was the Grinspoon of 2017 belting out “Guide To Better Living” instead of the Grinspoon of 1997 that recorded this Australian rock music classic. If you have a ticket to any of the upcoming shows, you better be prepared for a most memorable and nostalgic evening; if you haven’t, you best start hoping that the closest show to you isn’t sold out so you can experience this magic as it will never happen again!
Guide To Better Living:
Post Enebriated Anxiety
Don’t Go Away
Bad Funk Stripe
Hard Act To Follow
More Than You Are