Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Dinosaur Jr rocked the Leadmill

DINOSAUR JR Sheffield Leadmill, 3rd September 2009

On the way I ate a fine plate of Turkish vegan tomato stew at the Blue Moon Cafe, picked up a copy of Bob Dylan's "No Direction Home" double disc and found a retractable Sanctuary Housing biro.

Waiting in the queue to get inside, I got talking to a couple of older guys who were finishing off a roll up that smelt a bit more pleasant than mere carcinogenic tobacco. One of them is the father of the guitarist of support band Airburst, and described their drummer as the bastard son of Keith Moon. Airburst are total rock with professional chops, metal but not as heavy as can be. Apparently Dinosaur Jr are into them and asked them to play, which is as these things should be. Their backdrop was an advert for their myspace site. After they finished with their most headbangin' number I check out the T-shirt stall, even though the last thing I need is another band T-shirt. Dinosaur Jr shirts are a bit too cutesy for my liking, but I was tempted by the light blue one mostly because I can't recall seeing another band selling shirts the same colour. Unfortunately I've got so thin because wheat has damaged my gut, that even the small size looked like it'd be too big!

Dinosaur Jr have good taste if the tunes playing between the two bands are anything to go by. I enjoyed hearing Unwound, Babes in Toyland and the first Minor Threat song I ever heard, played by John Peel on the radio, "Bottled Violence." The Leadmill is renowned as one of the best venues in the land but it was a long time since I'd been there. I tried to recall other gigs I'd seen there; Pavement and Belly on the same bill, Come's first stop on the tour where I went to every show, the Girls Against Boys show where I broke a bone in my foot but didn't realise until the next day and the Shellac performance where they were told to play just one more song so opted hilariously for a very long rendition of "Didn't We Deserve A Look at You The Way You Really Are?"

Conveniently the trio walked on the moment I was served my second pint of cider and kicked into "Raisans." Last time I saw them I'd been driven to Birmingham by a friend who is obsessed with Lou Barlow, so I'd been on his side of the stage. This time I was damn sure I was going to get a good ear hammering from J. Mascis' wall of six Marshall amps, and it was easy enough to get near the front on his side. Mascis was wearing a Wipers T-shirt which led me to heckle, "Is This Real?" which I thought was quite a pertinent question as he's such a fluid guitarist his ability is almost beyond comprehension. Mascis stood rooted to the spot much of the time, looking as if the music was transporting him way beyond mundane rational 'reality.' The noise was a universal vibration that made all one. Dinosaur Jr are great because they pull off the old hippy trip without resorting to its gross excesses or past mistakes, and have the venomous energy of punk rock to propel them. Barlow bounced around like a kid in a castle hammering out chords on the bass that give their music such a heady undertow. Murph has lost his hair but found the beat to keep Mascis from floating off on some cloud. The climax was "Forget the Swan," the surprise was "Get Me" but it all blurred into a frenzied celebration. That these guys could bury the hatchet and return as good as ever is something to cherish, which makes it damn funny that after I heckled, "Messenger always brings bad news!" Lou announced, "This is a song from our new album." No worries on that score, their new songs were just as fine as the old ones and "Farm" will most certainly end up being one of the five most played albums of 2009 on my stereo. I found 52p on the floor before goin' home by train.

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