With barely a glimpse to the crowd J.Mascis, founder member of Dinosaur Jr., takes to the stage at the Brudenell in front of a capacity sold out crowd. J. is known to be a man of few words and much prefers to let his music do the talking and with only the briefest of greetings took no time at all opening up with ‘Listen To Me’. A beautiful gentle song that immediately makes everyone forget the icy cold blast outside the building. ‘Me Again’ from the latest album adds to the warmth and you would have been forgiven, and it would have been equally as acceptable, to foresee an evening of song from J.’s solo career.
But it was Dinosaur Jr. that brought him to our attention all those years ago, so it’s apt that the noise , distortion and reverb steps up a level for a song from all those years ago – ‘Little Furry Things’ is the first of seven Dinosaur Jr. numbers in tonight’s set. From here on in the volume, density and complexity of sound belies the fact that there’s only one man before us. Accompanied on stage by only a couple of guitars a few amps, laptop, bottles of water and song book, tracks are played and looped back as J. masterfully sets about creating what could possibly be the loudest solo set ever seen. Remaining seated throughout, there is very little interaction with the crowd between songs, but when the music is this, fine why bother with niceties?
Mid way through the set we are blessed with my favourite track from latest album, ‘Tied to a Star’ – ‘Heal the Star’. If anyone needed any more convincing they were in the presence of genius this was it. It starts off simple, J.’s distinctive vocals over the acoustic guitar, building with gradual intensity and leading into ‘Not The Same’, more Dinosaur Jr. from arguably the bands most popular album.
Looking around the packed venue it’s fair to say a significant number of people are struck with awe by what they are witnessing before them. I hear the guy beside turn to his wife and claim that the cover of Mazzy Star’s ‘Fade Into You’ made his blood cold and hair on his neck stand on end. I don’t believe he was the only one.
Three songs from the Dinosaur Jr. back catalogue close the set, and as easily as it started it ends. A very casual nod to the crowd and he’s gone.
After the briefest of interludes and minimalist of acknowledgements, J. retakes his position centre stage and closes the set with the first Dinosaur Jr. single to make it into the official UK charts, their interpretation of The Cures ‘Just Like Heaven’. The perfectly distorted version goes down well. It’s a fitting finale and as unassuming as he entered Mascis ups and leaves with the swiftest of goodbyes.
It has been very special – thank you Mr Mascis for gracing us with your presence, it was quite simply wonderful.
Listen to Me
Little Fury Things (Dinosaur Jr.)
Ammaring (J Mascis + The Fog)
Get Me (Dinosaur Jr.)
Heal the Star
Not the Same (Dinosaur Jr.)
Out There (Dinosaur Jr.)
Fade Into You (Mazzy Star cover)
Pond Song (Dinosaur Jr.)
Not You Again (Dinosaur Jr.)
Alone (Dinosaur Jr.)
Just Like Heaven (The Cure cover)
‘View from the Pit‘ gallery (click any image to see in full)