The Best Night Ever – aka The Grinspoon Greatest Hits Singalong Party – hit NightQuarter on Saturday 30 December for an epic New Year’s Eve-Eve lineup that saw The Paddock heaving with a mass of Gen X-ers and their black t-shirts.
Brissie punk chick Voiid kicked off the night with their Hole-like garage thrash, quickly followed by Gold Coast indie rockers Eliza and the Delusionals, who seem to get more solid with each performance. An inspired choice as a support slot for one of nineties’ most beloved bands, Eliza and the Delusionals rock out with heavy shades of Veruca Salt mixed with the more modern sensibilities of Alex Lahey. Singles ‘Salt’, ‘Falling Out’ and ‘Deep End’ (currently able to be voted on for triple j’s Unearthed) drew the early crowd closer to the stage.
Continuing with the indie trend, Melbourne boys British India kept the growing crowd happy with a decent selection of ARIA-charting hits from their prolific twelve year career. By now the audience was on its feet and getting well into its happy place, with the younger members of the crowd jumping and dancing happily away, especially to ‘Precious’, the group’s latest single.
A quick ice cream break to cool off saw me return to a packed house of extremely excited peeps. Those who have never seen Grinspoon before would have formed a fairly small percentage of the total, so there was an air of expectation that comes with knowing you are about to check out a truly kick-arse live act.
The guys certainly didn’t disappoint, getting everyone’s blood pumping straight off the bat with ‘Run’ and ‘Ready 1’, before throwing the crowd into full singalong mode with ‘Hard Act to Follow’ and ‘No Reason.’ Phil Jamieson – beer regularly in hand – was in particularly fine form, geeing up the crowd from his perch atop the foldback speakers and generally swaggering and falling around the stage like it was 1995. Pat Davern, possibly one of Australia’s more underrated guitarists, quietly got on with the job of shredding the hell out of Grinspoon’s trademark chunky, distorted riffs and noisy licks. For a four piece, these guys have always raised the roof.
‘DCX3’ was made particularly memorable by half a dozen smoke jets unexpectedly shooting off from the front of the stage, an effect not often seen in smaller venues, while ‘Chemical Heart’ saw phones held aloft in place of lighters, arms around shoulders, happy swaying. Grinspoon – particularly in later years with a wide and varied back catalogue from which to choose – have long been able to take fans on a musical journey throughout their sets. Jamieson’s tone and range goes from soft and melodic, through plaintive and angst-ridden, to a throaty scream that makes me want to cough on his behalf. The foursome are musical chameleons, and live pros.
The massive dude with the beard behind me bellowed out “CHAMPION!!!” about three seconds before they launched into it, and the floors of The Paddock certainly bore up well under the pressure of 500 overweight forty year olds jumping in unison. The gang finished off their set with a Grinspoon-ed version of ‘Don’t Change’ by INXS, and came quickly back on with an almost 20 minute encore that started with a stripped back ‘Better Off Alone’, and wrapped up in full hectic post-punk mode with ‘More Than You Are’, complete with massive confetti explosion. You could have been forgiven for thinking that you’d just spent the night, pummeled and sweaty, at Festival Hall in 1997. It was a tight, practiced night, well organised and made better via a clever lineup, spirited crowd and a handful of tricks. Long live the Grinners!
Photos by Dan Maynard