Live review: Dinosaur Jr. at The Arches, 30/1/13

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There’s a buzz around tonight, The Arches has been sold out for weeks and despite this curious choice of venue questioned by many unable to get a ticket, the excitement of those who do is evident.

The last time these mammoth alt rockers played Glasgow in 2010 in the much more spacious, and shall we say suited ABC.

No one is saying the ABC is the ideal venue to witness the brilliance of this band, far from it, but it’s way more suitable in terms of capacity and sound for tonight’s show.

The Arches is one of Glasgow’s premiere club venues and for this it is perfect but for a rock band such as Dinosaur Jr. it just doesn’t work, most of tonight’s sound is lost in feedback and the crowd struggle for position to see the band in the big (but not big enough) arch.

Maybe the downsize in capacity is due to the reception of recent album I Bet On Sky, which although did not receive bad reviews didn’t fair as well as the previous albums since bassist Lou Barlow rejoined the band in 2005.

Still, with all these problems Dinosaur Jr. is a massive live prospect, with the mercurial pedal wizard (in both skill and well… hair) J Mascis at the helm along side the ever energetic and massively likeable Barlow.

First up though is Nottingham’s Little Barrie, a band who on paper have a pretty impressive CV having played with the likes of Morrissey and Edwyn Collins, but unfortunately wee Barrie doesn’t quite live up to what the paper suggests and we move on.

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On stage at a fairly early 8.30pm the trio silently take to the stage and the crowd is instantly smashed with a wall of noise as they hit into new album closer ‘See It On Your Side’, Dinosaur Jr. are loud and technically brilliant, typically a joy to watch.

While Mascis’ guitar sound does typically rely on heavy use of feedback and distortion tonight the feedback seems to drown out everything else, but these guys are such a powerful presence that it doesn’t really matter as Mascis’ drawling vocals and Barlow’s engaging energy draw the crowd in.

Dinosaur Jr. don’t need to engage the crowd in banter to win them over, it’s all in the sheer power of their material, and while Barlow does exchange a few words with the crowd Mascis opts just to let his talent do the talking.

It has been much publiscised that the two don’t get on; Mascis did fire Barlow the first time round (almost thankfuly leading to Barlow’s brilliant Sebadoh), but who really cares if they don’t get on if they deliver.

A couple of tracks (‘The Lung’ and ‘Little Fury Things’) from arguably the band’s best album, 1987’s You’re Living All Over Me, quickly draw the crowd in further and there’s no going back as the band bombard the crowd with track after track of feedback drenched brilliance.

The band do choose to ignore their previous two album’s (all but ‘Crumble’ from 2007’s Beyond) despite their critical acclaim, instead they focus on a split of new album tracks and tracks pre 1997 break-up.

They do throw in the ever-popular ‘Training Ground’ from Mascis and Barlow’s first band, the punk leaning Deep Wound, and a very Dinosaur cover of The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’, complete with Barlow screaming “YOU” in backing vocal mode.

As ever the highlight of the night comes in the massive grunge hit ‘Freak Scene’, which has the room muttering the lyrics under their breath and swaying along to their heroes.

Closing their set at the 90 minute mark with possibly You’re Living All Over Me’s most memorable track ‘Sludgefeast’ the band leave without much criticism to be given, however most will be looking forward to the next time they play in a more suitable venue.

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