Dinosaur Jr have returned with their original line-up. Like former label-mates and Boston-based contemporaries, Pixies, a strong back-catalogue followed by an acrimonious break-up, has only served to add curiousity to the music loving public’s unquenchable thirst for all things guitar which gives a knowing nod to the 80’s.
Opening up with Almost Ready, the first track from their current album Beyond, singer J Mascis’ frayed voice could hardly be heard over the wail of his guitar, and the band started sluggishly out of the blocks.
When asked between songs by one punter to turn up the vocal mic, the singer replied curtly “you can hear the guitar can’t you?”
Clearly the frontman sets his stock in his instrument, rather than his voice, but as The Wagon kicked, two songs later, both band and audience had found their level – Mascis giving more projection and the crowd showing their appreciation with a boisterous pogo pit.
The only interaction between band members consisted of the odd glance shot from Mascis, to bassist Lou Barlow, or drummer Emmett ‘Murph’ Murphy suggesting that this a relationship in a working context only.
The set reflected that this wasn’t a token re-union tour, with the majority of songs coming from their latest opus all of which was well received, although Little Fury Things, Feel The Pain and Out There re-traced former glories. Murph’s galloping drums and Mascis’ delay drenched hook on for the finale of Out There tensed like hormonal lovers tussling with their dignity in public. The set ended with Forget The Swan, from 1985 debut album which included a blistering, virtuoso five minute guitar solo, and served as a reminder of what an immensely talented rock guitarist J Mascis is. With extended guitar solos, Mascis is not afraid to embrace rock showmanship unlike the stage unstatement shown by peers such as Sonic Youth and Pixies.
Freak Scene and Just Like Heaven were delivered to the audience in patient anticipation, and the audience only too ready to give Mascis’ vocals extra help. In the end, it was the guitar that that did all the talking.