Grinspoon at The Forum, December 22nd 2023

There’s something in the air at the one of Melbourne’s most beloved and beautiful venues this evening – and we have one of Australia’s most enduring hard rock acts to thank for it.

Grinspoon seem to have a thing for being a band for the right occasions. Upon announcing their ‘Easy Detention’ tour, they quickly sold out their first show at this venue on Melbourne Cup Eve. It led to this second show, six weeks later and three days before Christmas, and on the night when most people have knocked off work for the year. Talk about catering to the people.

Nostalgia has worked a treat for Lismore’s favourite sons – after a few years in hiatus, they rebooted in style in 2017 with a killer 20th anniversary tour for their breakout debut, Guide to Better Living. This time around they’re celebrating the two records that came after it, Easy (1999) and New Detention (2022) – hence the aptly named ‘Easy Detention’ tour.

They stick true to the theme of the night, opening with “Anyway Anyhow”, the opening track from New Detention. But it’s from the opening bars of “Lost Control” that things really whip into gear, as the floor becomes a mosh pit full of once-early 2000s teens reliving their best lives. 

Credit: Kiel Egging

Things appear to get too rowdy four songs in, prompting frontman Phil Jamieson to intervene. “What’s going on here, it’s Christmas,” he declares, as security sort a scuffle out. From there it’s a mix of singles like “Rock Show”, “No Reason”, and “Ready 1” paired alongside cuts like “Secrets” and “Killswitch”. And if you weren’t already locked in and amongst the action, the one-two punch of “Chemical Heart” and “1000 Miles” made sure of it. 

The album flashbacks are put on pause when the stage lights go dark, and a short time later, Jamieson pops up on a table in one of the booths in the middle of the venue, joined by backing vocalist Sophie Ozard. They do an acoustic take on the band’s cover of INXS’ “Don’t Change” (which didn’t suck back in the day) and was an extra track on New Detention. It’s a special moment as the fans sing every word and scramble to capture a bit of it on their phones.

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Credit: Kiel Egging

Rejoining the band on stage, the ‘ballads’ continue with “Better Off Alone”, an apt moment for any thirsty punters to make a quick dash to the bar. But from there, Jamieson and co. bring it home with back-to-back bangers, if they haven’t already been played off the two celebrated albums. “Hard Act to Follow”, “DCX3”, and “Just Ace” whip the moshers into a frenzy once again, before the place explodes with “Champion” and closer “More Than You Are”, complemented by sparkler towers on stage.

Whether it was a boozed-up mosher, or my mate next to me who was shouting back every lyric and letting off some steam after a gruelling year, this gig was just the right tonic for so many people. And that’s the enduring quality about Grinspoon and why there is still such a welcome place for them on Australia’s live circuit nearly 30 years into their career. 

They are like an old friend, always there when you most need it, with the ability to give you a sweaty, fun and enjoyable night of Aussie hard rock with nostalgic hits. Let’s hope it’s a service they can still provide for many years to come. Cheers, Champion(s).

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