Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Dinosaur Jr Academy Birmingham 22 May 2006

I saw Dinosaur Jr at Birmingham Carling Academy last night. That's the original line up with, hatchets buried and the band coming back to collect long overdue dues, library fines and critical acclaim.

I'd seen them in 1992 at the same venue. Smaller room this time round, although same great big sound. It's J Mascis guitar playing that really does it for me. It's got a sound of wah wah fruitiness that just splurges over the songs. His guitar sounds like it's having immense fun...Of course you can't tell whether he is having fun as he's hiding behind luxurient hair curtains and his only movements are like a walrus langidly rolling off the sofa towards the last tortilla chip and trying not to squash the TV remote control.

The band sounded great: loud, and a bit rough. A tricky thing to get right and to make it sound soooo right. I spent much of the night grinning at the audacity of the guitar sound and the tunes within tunes that the band were able to produce thanks to the miracle of volume, clever chords and plentyof notes. You can't argue with a classic Power trio. Hendrix, Sugar, Dinosaur Jr. It forces people to play differently as they need to cope with the moment when the guitar switches from rhythm to lead and the whole sound can collapse.

Mascis and Lou Barlow took turns at vocals, maybe that was to do with band politics and whose songs got played. They had pretty much defined this kind of sound and yet I spent much of the set thinking "It sounds great....but I don't remember this one." Most of the songs were from the first 2 albums I think...and my Dinosaur Jr knowledge is sadly Bug onwards. If I'd have been in their shoes I would have wanted to bash out indie hit after indie hit just to prove to the audience how much they should have missed me. They probably did, but I just didn't know it.

Freak Scene and Just like Heaven were saved for the encore and there was no Start Chopping. Barlows amp had to be swapped over half way through and the band seemed to lose a bit of momentum. There's a great moment in Just Like Heaven where the song seems to stop, just as it gets to the chorus, almost as if a tape is running and the power is cut, so it takes a micro second to stop rather than a clean sliced stop. It's a great trick and they use it to end the song on as well.

Birmingham was probably a bit of an off night for them really, but on a good night on this tour they'll be unstoppable.