Live Review

Dinosaur Jr, Electric Ballroom, London

Those numbers go all the way up to eleven.

As we gaze upon the vast array of Marshall amps on stage at Camden’s Electric Ballroom, it feels kind of appropriate that Dinosaur Jr’s gig here coincides with the launch of ‘National Tinnitus Awareness week’. DIY last spotted J Mascis in the audience at the recent My Bloody Valentine show in Brixton but, in what appears to be a quite brutal game of one-upmanship, tonight is far louder than Kevin Shields and his cohorts managed. At one point in the evening, we’re fairly certain we could feel our tooth fillings vibrate.

Recent album ‘I’ll Bet on Sky’ may be Dinosaur Jr-by-numbers, but those numbers go all the way up to eleven and touring for nearly three decades has obviously taught the band a thing or two about putting a set together. Newer tracks are dispensed with fairly early on and then we are treated to a pretty glorious run through the highlights of Dinosaur Jr’s ten studio albums. We get a ‘Crumble’ from ‘Beyond’, ‘Out There’ from ‘Where You Been’, ‘The Wagon’ from ‘Green Mind’ and ‘Little Fury Things’ from ‘You’re Living All Over Me’. Most songs follow a similar blueprint, Mascis’ yearning vocals giving way to a lengthy guitar solo, all played at ear-bleeding volume - Neil Young brought up on Black Flag.

With its waves of guitar fuzz and the refrain of ‘Don’t let me fuck up will you, because when I need a friend it’s still you,’ we’d stake a signed copy of ‘Daydream Nation’ that ‘Freak Scene’ is one of the finest songs to come out of the US alternative music scene of the 1980s. A fair proportion of the surprisingly youthful crowd may not have been born when it was first released, but it still provokes the most vociferous reaction of the evening.

Drummer Murph and returning bass player Lou Barlow ‘jamming’ between songs (whilst Mascis looks on like a disapproving wizard) is slightly annoying and the volume does get a bit too much at points, notably during the appropriately named ‘Sludgefest’, but as Dinosaur Jr tear through their iconic cover of The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’ the inevitable (and hopefully temporary) hearing loss is made almost worthwhile. Jurassic Park.

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