Enmore Theatre, Sydney 06/07/17
Review: Ed Lamington | Photos: Meghan Player
20 years may have passed since the release of Grinspoon’s riff-tastic debut album Guide To Better Living, but it seems that Father Time has only added a little grey to guitarist Pat Davern’s beard and bassist Joe Hansen’s temples: every else is exactly as it was back in the day. Actually, it's better.
And thank baby Jesus for that. Tearing through the album from start to finish with genuine enthusiasm, there were two factors that we struggled to come to grips with: how big the crowd was and how damn good the guitars sounded.
Settling for a sound mix that could only be described as positively bowel-rattling, the guitars were front and centre, bolstered by a tri-amp attack that provided the biggest, crunchiest wall of Drop-D chord stabbing imaginable. Davern switched between one of his classic Matons and a Fender Stratocaster for most of the show, blasting out one-fingered chords and tasteful fuzzed-up solos, all business, barely cracking a smile.
Vocalist Phil Jamieson reminded us that he is a rare treat in the heavy music world - a frontperson that can actually sing AND scream. Note perfect. Even the zany yodelling bit in the bridge of Scalped was bang on.
It’s a great feeling when you head out to see a band hoping for a small smattering of those nostalgic feels and then realise 40 seconds in that this is going to be one of those all time gigs.
Hearing the youthful exuberance of songs from an album that was recorded only two years after the band formed performed with the laser-like precision of 20 experience sent the biggest crowd we’ve ever seen at the Enmore into a, at times terrifying, frenzy. You could tell some of these punters were only coming out of gig-going retirement for one show this year and could have done with putting the training wheels back on. Mosh etiquette and capacity for civilised drinking were definitely lacking. This was a strictly shoulder-to-shoulder gig. Lots of shoving, beer spilling and raucous backslapping.
As the album came to close with the crushing one-two punch of crowd-favourite “Champion” and the deliciously dumb “Truk”, the band took a breather so Phil could switch into a suit jacket for an encore of slightly more mature material such as “Chemical Heart”, “No Reason”, “Ready 1” and perhaps their longest-serving live staple “More Than You”.
The few punters left that could still stand on their feet at the end of the gig - we kid - left with the sincere hope that we’d get another 20 years of better living out of this band. Congrats Grinspoon, you’re still World Champion.