By Greg Gould
UC Refectory, 18 October 2019
It was a slow night for the ID checkers at UC Refectory as Grinspoon’s Chemical Heart Tour rolled into town.
In a crowd where you’d be hard pressed to find anyone sub-30, the youngest people in the room were probably the opening acts Bugs, The Gooch Palms and The Hard Aches.
Despite the age gap, the youngsters set the right mood. They were upbeat and fun; positive and energetic. On any other night, the punters would have demanded more, but of course, it was Grinspoon we were here to see.
Fuelled by good vibes, a back catalogue of hits twenty years deep and a tasty dose of nostalgia, the Aussie rock legends were never going to disappoint an eager audience.
Bursting onto the stage with quickfire fan favourites DCx3, Pedestrian and Just Ace, it was clear from the outset this show was for the fans.
What followed next was a procession of classic crowd-shakers that left no doubt as to why the Lismore band dominated the stages of the Big Day Out, Homebake and Livid in the late 90s and early 00s.
It was a rock show of old, complete with crowd surfing, flying shoes, boob flashes, and a crowd-pleasing encore.
The enigmatic and unmistakably charismatic frontman Phil Jamieson led the way with his usual energetic and brash moves across the stage.
For a guy who has been belting out hard rock for over two decades, his voice is as dynamic as ever.
From the heartfelt melodies of Better Off Alone and Chemical Heart to the primal screams of 1000 Miles and Champion, Jamieson delivered every word with conviction. This was no playthrough performance. This was a spark reignited.
The band was also tight. Apart from a rusty rendition of Black Friday — which Jamieson pointed out had not been played live for almost 20 years — Davern, Hansen and Hopes brought the goods, filling the room with a raw, gritty sound that felt bigger than their parts combined.
While the rock was powerful, so were the quiet moments. Changing gears, Jamieson took a spotlight into the crowd to play a pared-back, solo version of Repeat before re-joining the band for the underrated ballad Bad Funk Stripe.
Like all good leading men, Jamieson knows how to make any room feel intimate.
The Chemical Heart Tour isn’t about breaking new ground. Frankly, Grinspoon doesn’t need to. They’ve paid their dues and have nothing left to prove.
Instead, it’s about celebrating the journey so far and reminding Australia that for a rock band to be successful they only need to do one thing: keep rocking!
Fittingly, the only cover for the night was borrowed from another iconic Aussie rock band, INXS’s Don’t Change.
As the crowd came in strong on the chorus there was a clear message in the air: as long as Grinspoon keeps being Grinspoon, they will always have an audience of loyal fans.
Gig gallery: Grinspoon
Gig gallery: Bugs, The Gooch Palms and The Hard Aches
Photos by Greg Gould