It’s remarkable to think that Dinosaur Jr. reformed just over a decade ago, during which time the group have effectively become the example of how to instigate a successful re-union. The trio put their differences aside and have since released several albums of critic and fan pleasing indie rock; Dinosaur Jr. successfully avoided the cliché trait of reforming as a cheap, legacy ruining cash-out by recuperating and improving internal band relations, remaining a pertinent and seminal influence on the alternative music landscape.
For the fans that didn’t manage to catch them on their original run, this sold out show at Manchester’s glorious Albert Hall venue perfectly reflects both of Dinosaur Jr.’s incarnations, showcasing six tracks from this years ‘Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not’ in addition to clever selections of classic eighties and nineties material. With little in the way of rock theatrics (bar minimalist lighting features), Dinosaur Jr. perform a raucously noisy set in the elegant chapel venue, with sounds quaking the room from the ridiculously huge amplification stacks of J. Mascis and Lou Barlow.
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Dinosaur Jr. take to the stage and briefly greet the excitable Saturday night audience. With little hesitation, the group burst into ‘The Lung’ from their landmark album ‘You’re Living All Over Me’, presenting the first instances of deafening volume and J.’s signature untamed solos. Mascis is largely stationary, however Lou Barlow darts around the right-hand side of stage, strumming ferociously at his low-slung bass; his vigorous physical stage presence offers an unambiguous contrast to J.’s endearing slacker pose. Following ‘Goin Down’ and ‘I Told Everyone’, a couple of tracks from the latest record the seven-inch single version of ‘The Wagon’ is perfromed, featuring an extra drummer and an electric sitarist. The crowd reaction is extremely positive, with half of the mixed-generation audience participating in outbreaks of frolicking energy. Similarly, ‘Watch the Corners’ encourages animated bounds from the spectators thanks to its rhythmical introduction, even prompting an audience member to climb over the barrier and onto the stage. Ensuing a brief intermission after the security-pursued stage invader fell back into the crowd, the band launches into the harmonious chorus, completing the song with increased enthusiasm.
‘Tiny’, the lead-single from ‘Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not’ channels classic Dinosaur Jr., sitting exceptionally well between classic set-staples ‘Out There’ and ‘Feel the Pain’. ‘Feel the Pain’ prompts a unison of pogoing as soon as the unmistakable first notes are played and the unruliness increases upon the quickened pace of the chorus. ‘Start Choppin’ features one of the best sing-along sections of the night and the hit-single ‘Freak Scene’ is performed with no need for an introduction; the audience knows exactly what is about to ensue as the iconic opening chords reverberate through the venue. The band leave the stage shortly after Lou Barlow shines on his vocal fronted track ‘Love Is…”, only for the audience to demand an encore.
A few minutes later, Dinosaur Jr. reappear, with Lou Barlow announcing they’ll play a Deep Wound cover, Mascis and Barlow’s former band who specialised in grizzly hardcore punk. The harshest song of the night delights and bewilders the audience in equal measures, permitting their legendary take on The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’ to delight those craving a flair of melody. Although a foreseeable feature in a Dinosaur Jr. set, it’s a gratifying and arguably improved adaptation of the original.
Following the colossal clamours and freak-outs of ‘Mountain Man’, the band leave the stage for a second and final time. With a performance of intensely executed noise-fuelled rock that thrilled the enchanted balcony onlookers and the high-spirited standees, the three-decade old Dinosaur Jr. verify their 2007 comeback is one of the most significant and fulfilling re-unions witnessed in contemporary music.