Live @ The Triffid, Brisbane (8 August, 2015)
Supported by Pleasure Symbols and Straight Arrows
Review by Matt Bond
Why hello there. You'll have to excuse me, I'm still soaking in the post-Grates gig happiness bubble I'll be living in for the next few weeks. It lasted a couple of weeks the last time I saw Brisbane's best rockers. That was in 2009 at the Sunset Sounds festival. Patience Hodgson was confined to a throne due to a broken foot (maybe?), John Patterson's beard game was not quite as strong and I was still full of hopes and dreams. Since then the band has gone from a three-piece to two and back again, released two knockout LP's Secret Rituals and Dream Team, opened the Southside Tea Room, started the Death Valley record label that's also a bar, Patience and John got married and had a baby with the coolest name ever, Soda. Sure, they've been super busy and have a lot going on, but with their 'Team Work Makes The Dream Work' tour kickoff in Brisbane they showed they haven't lost a step when it comes to being one of the best live music experiences going around.
My posse (aka my sister Sam and I) sadly only caught the last song from the first opening act, Pleasure Symbols. They seemed pretty cool, all dark and mysterious electronic magic going on. With them being from Brisbane, hopefully I'll see more of them soon. But since this is the first gig review I've written since BIGSOUND last September, well... I have been stalking up Pleasure Symbols' Bandcamp though. Straight Arrows were up next, with The Triffid filling up nicely for a tight set from the Sydney rockers. 60s rock and BritPop influences shone through on tracks like 'Don't Call My Name' and 'Make Up Your Mind' and the band looked like they were having a lot of fun doing their thing. Especially the guitarist who I've decided is Alex through the wonders of Facebook. I liked your Madonna shirt and would like to know if you're interested in selling it?
With The Triffid packed out, the super special five-piece edition of The Grates made their way onto the stage. Patience looking as fabulous as ever, Patterson taking up keys duties due to injury, Jack Richardson on guitar, Ritchie Daniell on drums and Owen Penglis from Straight Arrows on bass. Launching into '19-20-20' to much excitement from a hometown crowd you knew was largely made up of longtime fans was the perfect start to a set that was any Grates fan's dream come true. Seriously, the screams from the crowd at the start of each song, the huge singalong moments... Brisbane LOVES The Grates. '7-11' from their latest album Dream Team was introduced by Hodgson as the first they've written about Brisbane, at least technically, since an old number called 'Capalaba Town' is more about the Redland. This will only make sense to people from Brisbane, so if you don't get it just laugh and pretend you're in on the joke. The Dream Team tracks didn't get lost amongst the crowd favourites, with '7-11' only the first to get everyone jumping up and down... especially Patience who is possibly even more energetic on stage then she was the time before I saw her throne-ing it up. 'Wild One', new single 'Call Me' and a performance that left me completely in love with 'Back To Back' will have me listening to Dream Team on repeat once more. But for my money, 'It Won't Hurt Anymore' was the real showstopper. As ballad-y as it gets for The Grates, Patience made her way into the crowd to belt out what's arguably their best song.
It wasn't all about the new. Like I said, the set list was a longtime fan's dream. When you weren't having a little mosh to 'Feels Like Pain' or 'Like You Could Have It All' you were having a big one to 'Trampoline' and 'Burn Bridges'. 'Science Is Golden', 'Aw Yeah', 'Sweet Dreams' and 'Rock Boys' filled in an incredible run of songs... urgh, I want to hear them all again now. Looks like I'll be digging out the "old" Grates records too. A beach ball and inflatable kangaroo were being thrown around the crowd, with Hodgson quick to point out the latter was really a wallaby and the former was a pool ball. Which had her thinking about pool boys and her love for them. In all fairness she only said, "I like pool boys." The banter was as colourful as the costumes (I like your jackets and would like to know if you're interested in selling them?), with Patience getting the crowd to make their best lip-smacking sounds. An attempt to make finger-pistol kisses a thing ended hilariously with her establishing the power of this particular kind of kiss. "You, mister... are pregnant. Sorry. See you next album cycle."
Did I say 'It Won't Hurt Anymore' is arguably their best song? Maybe it's 'Holiday Home', which was the final song before we got two bonus encore tracks. As the band returned to the stage, Patience with her coat of many colours, she announced the first number by saying, "this is a song about best friends. That's us." The song was 'Friends With Scum'. I laughed. And for a song that has a recorded version I like, I really loved the live performance of it. The definition of fun. All good things must come to an end and the final song for the night was 'Turn Me On'. You could say the crowd was left satisfied, but that would be a criminal understatement. Fans of The Grates know they're going to see something they'll never forget when they head to a show and even with some time away from the stage, that certainly hasn't changed. Sydney and Melbourne... you're in for a treat when The Grates arrive for your stops of the tour. Get excited.