Live Review: Grinspoon deliver their Guide to Better Living with bravado in Adelaide

The Theatre venue of the Adelaide Entertainment Centre was a sweaty concrete box on Saturday night. The last time I was here was for Violent Soho’s epic show with The Bronx and I barely made it out of there without passing out once or twice. Skipping forward to tonight, Hockey Dad are taking up their spots on the stage as the main support for Grinspoon.

The duo have come a long way since I first came across them at SXSW a few years back. They still come across as the sort of guys you’d easily kick it with at a house party with a few tins in play but musically, Hockey Dad have grown exponentially. There’s a bit of a shit kicker aura that surrounded many of these grunge and surf-rock bands that all seemed to come through circa 2013 but what proved their longevity is how quickly they’re able to be shed of it in the eyes of a wider audience. Hockey Dad have always had the younger demographic behind them but their shows on this Grinspoon tour have no doubt raked in the older rock fans – like the older gents next to me, who nodded their heads in approval and followed with, “Aw yeah that blonde drummer can fucking shred for a young bloke, aye?”

The songwriting has definitely strengthened, as has Hockey Dad’s live presence; they’re deserving of these sorts of stages and if they continue honing the sounds they are with the precision they’re currently operating at, they’ll be ’round for a long time yet.

Speaking of bands who’ve managed to sustain large and loyal fanbases through the decades, enter Grinspoon. Celebrating 20 years of Guide to Better Living, the reaction the band garnered when they kicked into album opener “Pressure Tested 1984” was akin to what I’d assume would happen should Silverchair ever reform to celebrate Frogstomp. This is an album that has formed many an adolescence and as the crowd threw themselves forward and back with each strike of the drum kit, you were made well aware that this was a show not to be taken lightly by the diehard fans in attendance.

Personally, I’d forgotten how hard some of the music on Guide to Better Living was until I was in that crowd, watching Joe Hansen thunder through those penetrative bass lines. Not surprisingly, frontman Phil Jamieson stepped up to the plate in channeling the same amount of anger that drove the bulk of that album, with equal parts cheek. Nobody is denying that Grinspoon are far from the triple j Unearthed winners they were in the late 1990’s; now parents with solo careers and other non-musical ventures making up that so-called ‘life’, throwing themselves back into 1998 and the album that launched Grinspoon was a clear thrill.  The grin that spread across Jamieson’s face during “DCX3”, the stance Pat Davern commanded and his electric guitar rang out heavy with riffs in the theatre, the dynamic between Grinspoon hadn’t changed much at all.

While Guide to Better Living round out with frenetic renditions of “Champion” and “Truk”, the crowd was given a few minutes to get their breath before Grinspoon returned to deliver a long encore (or short second set, whichever way you dice it) of well-loved hits. A change from the leather jacket into a tailored blazer, Jamieson stripped things back with “Protest” before the recognisable opening to “Chemical Heart” soon rang out to applause. Tearing through the likes of “Lost Control”, “Hard Act to Follow” before arriving at the show closer of “More Than You Are”, Grinspoon took their second wind and turned it gale force.

If you were a long time fan, this anniversary tour will definitely deliver on the brief. If you’re a passing Grinspoon or were too young to really have gotten round Guide to Better Living in the 1990s, then you may just find yourself taking in a slice of Australian rock music that fell in line with some of the best to come out at the time.

The reviewer attended this show on August 26th. Photo by Gwen Lee, captured in Sydney.

GRINSPOON TOUR DATES
Ticket details via www.grinspoon.com.au

August 31st | Cambridge Hotel, NEWCASTLE | SOLD OUT
September 1st | Lismore City Hall, LISMORE | SOLD OUT
September 2nd | Racehorse Hotel, BRISBANE | SOLD OUT
September 14th | The Entrance Leagues Club, BATEAU BAY | SOLD OUT
September 15th | Waves, WOLLONGONG | SOLD OUT
September 16th | UC Refectory, CANBERRA
September 20th | CSU, WAGGA WAGGA
September 21st | The Jam Bar @ Barooga Sports Club, BAROOGA
September 22nd | Beer Deluxe, ALBURY
September 23rd | NEX, NEWCASTLE WEST | SOLD OUT
October 2nd | Caloundra Music Festival, KINGS BEACH