Grinspoon @ The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle NSW Australia 31/08/2017 written by Brendan Lewis
Are you ready to rockin’ party like its 1997?!… again. Why 1997? Because Aussie rock
icons ‘Grinspoon’ are taking over Newcastles’ Cambridge Hotel as part of their mammoth
tour around Australia in celebration of the 20 year anniversary of their debut album ‘Guide
To Better Living’. The band are taking fans down memory lane by performing the epic
album in its entirety from start to finish!
Based on the reputation I’ve heard Newcastle have earned themselves as being rowdy
drunks at the best of times and from my own experiences, I’m bracing myself for a wild
night tonight. If I don’t make it out of this crowd alive tonight, please tell my family I love
them… and delete my browser history.
The lights go out and the Mission Impossible theme music playing with beat-synced
strobe lights as well as a fair dinkum Aussie roar from the crowd, calls these rock legends
out as they triumphantly strut onto the stage to save the day from the evil’s of Bieber pop!
Now hold on to your drinks, and try not to drop your keys, for this will be a bumpy ride…
The first song has been well ‘Pressure Tested’ over the years to raise the energy to 11
with its bang-bang-bang intro, grungy bass, plus its rough biting vocals. Has the band
lost the original flare over the years though I wonder? Nope, not even slightly, the band all
rocked out fiercely on the stage like young gunners from the get-go, with lead singer Phil
jumping off the centre fold-back speaker with a showy flick of the legs to rev up the
audiences energy even more. This song was a perfect opening song not just for a hardhitting
rock album, but for the appropriate show to go with it!
Without a second to breathe, the band charge straight into ‘Boundary’ continuing to
demonstrate the bands true-to-CD accuracy in their live performance mixed excellently
by their sound mixer, to accomodate Phil’s contrasting vocals throughout their set and all
the dynamic changes in the bands sound. The brilliant sound and energy from the band
was accompanied by some surprisingly fancy for a pub venue lighting, that stood out to
even me and added a nice buzz to the night’s atmosphere.
The band breaks the colossal energy only briefly to say hi to the audience and inform
them that this is ‘Guide To Better Living’ (just in case you missed the memo) before
heading into the next two songs ‘DC X 3’ and ‘Sickfest’. By this stage the crowd had well
and truly awoken and got their mosh on, and for these two songs saw more pushing,
jumping, spilt drinks and now fist pumping and chanting “dead cat!” along to ‘Dc x 3’
from the crowd, with the songs killer guitar solo and screaming vocals in the bridge
harnessed by the bands on-stage energy.
With only a slight pause, the next two songs ‘Railrider’ and ‘Scalped’ via wishing the
crowd a happy Thursday night, gave a nice contrast to the music whilst still keeping to
Grinspoons’ typical grungy hooks and aggressive rock lyrics, with the crowd head
banging away at the beats.
Next the band talk about their album ‘Guide To Better Living’ and how it’s been 20 years
since its release. Seriously, did people miss the memo or something? The next song on
this ride through time is the first single the band released off this album ‘Pedestrian’
which made the crowd go wild. This was made evident by my scribbled notes getting less
and less legible to even me, which the band obviously appreciated the crowds
enthusiasm with a “good on ya’ Newy!” from the band before a slight pause, wait for it…
The next two songs ‘Just Ace’ which was just that, and ‘Post Enebriated Anxiety’,
sustained the wild energy from the audience and featured more stand out lighting which
I’d honestly never seen featured at this small venue before. The crowds energy creeping
up in velocity of course brought out/over the first crowd surfer of the night, but definitely
not the last, plus the whole crowd jumping in sync with one another, which I’ve gotta
admire seeing as jumping up and down in sync with the people around you and not
ending up on your ass whilst drunk, is a true-blue effort.
Even the next song ‘Repeat’ with its slower tempo and funky wah-wah guitar hooks and
anthem-worthy chorus, wasn’t enough to calm the crowd down even slightly and if I’m
not mistaken saw the first fight emerge, c’mon Newy whats to fight strangers about at a
good ol’ rock show?
The slower tempo was short lived and for the next few songs brought the up beat-ness
right back and made the crowd go nuts once more. This is the ideal time for me to give a
public service announcement as I’m getting sick of this…
NEWY, SETTLE THE F*** DOWN A LITTLE! I mean jumping around and swaying side to
side/dancing having a good time is fine, its great and I’m used to being squashed up
against the barrier and I know it often can’t be helped. However, completely disrespecting
everyone around you by feeling women up and starting fights because you’ve got too
much alcohol/testosterone in your system, digging your elbows into peoples ribs to barge
them out of the way because you want that spot and so you can flail your sweaty arms
around over people’s heads and shoulders trying to touch the band (which you know you
can’t reach) and nearly pushing people to the ground with serious injuries is just
disgusting behaviour and no wonder bands are starting to boycott Newcastle. We all want
to have a good time and enjoy some live music, stop spoiling it for everyone else. Oh and
another thing that is just not on, don’t try and steal/snatch the drum stick the guitarist
gave a certain blind reviewer and not let go even after the guitarist tells you to.
Now thanks to that necessary rant I need to speed things along a little. The home stretch
of the show saw crowd pleaser hit ‘Champion’ with its egging on bite lyrics and crowd
Encore? of course. The first song of which is a nice would-be calming acoustic track
followed by rock anthem ‘Chemical Heart’ with its contrasting sound yet still high in
energy being a beloved hit, and executed perfectly live. This was followed by ‘Lost
Control’ with its amazing sing-a-long enticing chorus, and just to remind people they’re
still hardcore til the end, saw Phil still doing his fancy jump/flick off the speaker.
With Phil revving up the crowd with a “are you f***in’ ready?!” the last two rock anthems
‘No Reason’ and my personal favourite ‘Hard Act To Follow’ was indeed a hard act to
follow, with their dramatic “larger than life” thumping finishes, sing alongs, intense crowd
jumping as if its the last song we’ll ever hear and a suspenseful drum intro to ‘Hard Act To
Follow’ with Phil introducing the band, was an epic finish to an epic performance!
Great clear sound, nostalgic, high energy, yet disgusting crowd behaviour thats this show
in a nut shell. Good on you Grinspoon, well done! Newcastle, pull your heads in.