The Albert Hall in Manchester was the best venue for this incredible band. The seating at the top was just mesmerising and the stain glass windows just added to the atmosphere. The church like setting, with all of the eager audience members, young and old, made it feel like everyone was worshiping these gods in front of us. To be honest, it was exactly that! The quiet and elegant venue was soon filled with a stentorian roar of music.
Flashing lights with an array of colours, made it atmospheric, not cheesy. It created different settings and moods, which the music pushed from the front of the audience all the way to the back, like a tidal wave.
First up was Wild Style Lion. It seemed like the ageing rockers in the audience (and me on that note) had never heard of these guys before. Not judging, they walk on looking like they had just come from singing at a pub and then out booms industrial style music. It was harsh and raucous, kind of reminded me of Manson and Jonathan Davis’ vocal style. What more could you ask for? The vocals weren’t to the best standard but it’s obvious that this is what they wanted, a garage like sound – which is exactly what they produced. They used pre-recorded tracks to add to the mysteriousness and suspense they created. It was like it was homemade and from a B horror movie, which was pretty fucking cool.
Dinosaur Jr are like a mix of everything including alternative rock, punk and country. This just adds to everyone’s love for them. They have consistently influenced music over the years, even after they have reformed. The audience cheered with joy when they played some tracks off their newest album, ‘Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not’. The set list was what every Dinosaur Jr fan could wish for, it consisted of all the well known songs, ‘watch the corners’, ‘out there’, ‘freak scene’, ‘feel the pain’ and ‘crumble’. The whole audience were singing along, it is such an amazing feeling when you can look around and see everyone singing the same song as you. You can see how much this band truly means to people and how each person can get something different out of every song. To top it all off, they also performed a song from J’s and Barlow’s old band, Deep Wound! This was a great surprise, it felt like we were being transported back in time to their hardcore punk days.
J Mascis has many guitars, many pedals and many solos. His guitar and vocals create a thing that I would like to call, a wall of noise. I won’t be able to name every pedal off his massive pedal board, but I could definitely hear a big muff, waa and fuzz pedals. And of course, overdrive! To be honest, his ‘clean’ sound is overdrive, it was crazy.
Everyone’s got to love his approach to vocals, he blends into the band like it is just another instrument. He is the first vocalist that I could truly show respect for in that area, he doesn’t put his vocals as the main centre of attention, the band is all equal. Next time someone says to you, ‘vocals aren’t an instrument’, go and see Dinosaur Jr live. He doesn’t move around much but who cares, he’s chilled out. He’s no front man and I like that. His unique tone of voice is beautiful, it’s warm and croaky. It sounds like he is inviting every one of us to listen to every emotion he has ever had and every moment (good and bad) that he has experienced. His performance united all of the audience, creating a powerful and mesmerising ambience.
Lou Barlow on bass is just a beast. It seems like he will never get bored of gigging! He oozes energy, in fact, there wasn’t a moment where he was stood still. He reminds me of all the boys that have first joined a band, who are very excited and jumping around all of the time. He seems so relaxed on stage, his low slung bass and no shoes..just makes you love his down to earth attitude. Barlow and Mascis are particularly fond of their big stack amps. Barlow’s orange amps emanate a huge, crunch-like tone. This is what you need if you are the bassist of Dinosaur Jr! He occasionally sang phrases throughout the night but his voice truly shined on’Love is’. His physical energy was transferred into singing this song. His voice echoed to the tops of the balcony, where everyone was watching in awe and hanging on to every note.
The thriving liveliness of the band reflected on the audience. It was so intense, that a enthusiastic audience member leaped onto the stage and started whirling around J Mascis. J didn’t even seem to notice at first, until his guitar lead was knocked and J flashed the carefree fan an unimpressed look. Barlow carried on singing the chorus, even though J and Murph had stopped playing, which was amusing. The rhythm section is very tight, they work very well together and create a good foundation for the band.
Murph’s talent is sometimes overlooked. I was awestruck by his ability. It is not overly complex but he played fast and consistent for the whole 2 hours! He didn’t even look tired at the end. Considering these guys have been playing music for years on and off, I don’t think they will be getting fed up anytime soon. Murph puts a great amount of effort into what his performance and focuses so much, he’s overall just an exceptional drummer. His glasses fell off during one of the songs and he just pulled through. What was particularly impressive about setup, was that the lights on stage sparkled over him and followed each beat. It added to the intensity and got the crowd feeling the music, which resulted in the ebullient crowd bouncing up and down.