LIVE REVIEW: Scott Russo (Unwritten Law) and Phil Jamieson (Grinspoon) in Melbourne, Australia (12/19/14)

Scott Russo of much loved San Diego pop-punkers Unwritten Law and Phil Jamieson of Australian alt-rock gods Grinspoon, have forged a famous friendship since meeting on the Warped Tour in 1999. This friendship, born of youthful exuberance and strengthened through the shared experience of life on the road (and all of its ups and downs), has played a crucial part in the lives and careers of both men. Tonight, some 15 years since becoming instant best friends, Russo and Jamieson took the stage together at the Corner Hotel for the Melbourne leg of their Australian dual headlining acoustic tour and provided a sold-out crowd with an insight into the power not only of their music, but of their friendship as well.

Taking the stage first, Jamieson was in fine form, flexing his rather impressive vocal chops as he made his way through a selection of reimagined Grinspoon hits and much loved album tracks. With a room full of punters ready and willing to sing back every word of the songs that soundtracked their misspent youth, Jamieson rolled through the likes of “No Reason,” “Just Ace” and a surprisingly faithful and tender version of The Beatles’ “Till There Was You” to an appreciative and increasingly drunken audience. Highlighted by a bluesy rendition of the usually frantic “Thousand Miles,” Jamieson’s set was the perfect introduction to the night’s proceedings.

As Russo took the stage, many of the females in the audience (and a few of the males) pushed their way to the front and Russo wasted no time ensuring their effort was worth it, kicking off his set with a killer rendition of “Teenage Suicide” before ripping through a list consisting of audience favourites such as “Shoulda Known Better,” “Seein’ Red” and “California Sky” before closing out with a stellar solo version of “Save Me.” Russo has a warmth to his vocal tone in an acoustic setting that isn’t present on Unwritten Law’s recorded works and this was particularly evident in his moving rendition of Unwritten Law’s signature tune “Cailin.” Inspiring the biggest sing-a-long of the night, “Cailin” remains every bit as heartfelt and meaningful as it was when it was first unleashed on the world all those years ago, and its inclusion in the set alone would have made many a fan’s night complete.

Thankfully, Russo and Jamieson were not done yet, and as they took the stage together to perform a short set consisting of equal helpings of Grinspoon and Unwritten Law favourites, the crowd predictably lost its collective mind. Opening with an electrifying version of Grinspoon’s “Repeater” Russo and Jamieson traded verses as they led the audience on a much appreciated trip down memory lane. Unwritten Law’s “Up All Night” followed next and the audience sing-a-long drowned out Russo and Jamieson in the chorus, perfectly encapsulating the song and the night’s party spirit. That spirit remained for the remainder of the set, reaching fever pitch as the two friends tore through an inspired version of Grinspoon’s “More Than You Are,” the audience reaction to which rivaled even that of “Cailin” and “Up All Night.”

A fun-filled and festive night in which the combination of witty banter, stripped-back instrumentation and an appreciative crowd combined to create the atmosphere of a particularly jovial (and rather large) campfire sing-a-long, and is a night I won’t soon forget. Kudos to both men on their performances and extra kudos for having the balls to embrace and celebrate the power of genuine male friendship; it truly is a beautiful thing.

scott russo

Feature photo image by Stephen Archer Photography

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