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Dinosaur Jr., Leeds University Union: Stylus, Leeds

  • Written by  Peri Daley

After being warmed up by supporting act Little BarrieDinosaur Jr. show that they are a band who get straight into things, kicking off with 2012’s ‘See It On Your Side’. Helped by a perfect mixture of strong vocals, rhythmic drumming and guitar solos, the crowd are very much involved from the word go. Quite simply, the atmosphere is immediately awesome and everyone is absorbed within the trio's aura.

Having opened so successfully with the new, the band is completely comfortable going back seven years to 2005 hit ‘The Lung’. A heavy two minutes sees J. Mascis doing what he does best with a guitar in his hands - though when it comes to talking to the crowd he says very little apart from the odd ‘thank you’. Lou Barlow is clearly the talker of the band, embracing the crowd and apologising "... for kicking a microphone stand into someone's head here 23 years ago” at a particularly stressful gig. Thankfully, one can be pretty confident that the victim, if present, has forgotten about the incident – if not because of the bump on the head itself then because of the overwhelming atmosphere of the present gig.

Indeed, the crowd can’t help being uplifted by a Dinosaur Jr. classic all the way from 1991, with the ‘The Wagon’s lyrics flowing exceptionally well next to the band’s pioneering alt-rock beats and the rowdy, sweaty boys moshing in the crowd. ‘Start Choppin’ has a similar effect, the crackling and slightly high pitched vocals of Mascis bringing the crowd even closer together. Granted, this is not hard given that the venue itself is somewhat snug – but the band does well to take full advantage of the loud and beefy acoustics of the small venue, which suit their sound perfectly.

The band give a mixture of tracks from the classics to the latest album I Bet On  Sky (2012), the latter including highlights such as ‘Rude’, in which Lou Barlow’s instantly strong and recognizable vocals easily come out on top. ‘Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Know’ and ‘Watch The Corners’ also feature before the band take things back all the way to 1985’s (then self-titled) debut album Dinosaur. ‘Ending’ the set with insane guitar solos, the band makes cries for an encore inevitable.

The encore itself takes the form out the band’s famous cover of The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’, which fits perfectly alongside ‘Sludgefest’. After this heavenly sludgefest, the crowd are left in the more-than-capable hands of a DJ specialising in long and impeccable guitar solos. Epitomising the mood of the night even after the band have left the stage, one man in the crowd catches my eye with an admirable air guitar. An outsider might suggest that this was merely beer-induced tomfoolery. But for anyone at the gig, this is obviously the result of the never-ending spell of Dinosaur Jr.

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