The last time I saw Dinosaur Jr Lou had just quit the band to concentrate on Sebadoh and I’d just purchased Bug on tape. Cassette tape!…oh man I feel old, but I’m in good company as a glance around the hall confirms that 90% of the audience are of a similar vintage. I mention this because as the years start to take their toll you need to think about pacing yourself a little. Dinosaur Jr understand this and structure their setlist accordingly so that we are presented with a formula of three or four album tracks, each featuring indescribably long guitar solos, followed by a crowd pleasing Mascis moshpit masterpiece.
The first of which is a breezy version of The Wagon which sees the years tumble away from both band and audience alike; we’ll pay for it in the morning and reconstructive knee surgery may even be required in extreme cases but, hey, we are all here to (intermittently) rock! Age certainly hasn’t dimmed their capacity to make a gargantuan din but those who’ve managed to avoid being pinned to the wall by the tidal wave of noise will have got close enough to note that while Lou is still looking pretty good Mascis has transformed into Gandalf the Grey and Murph into Masterchef’s Greg Wallace.
The Mascis guitar sound remains incredible, valves being pushed to destruction so that the sound is always apparently on the verge of disintegrating into total chaos. The solos are not what many have come to see however, and thus between each song there’s a chant for Freak Scene which must be quite wearing for the band if it happens every night. It is quite a millstone: imagine that the famous Sausages dog from That’s Life had gone on to learn the role of King Lear and performed it at the RSC only for the audience to greet each canine soliloquy with a chant of Sausages. That’s pretty much the life of Dinosaur Jr on the road.
The inclusion of a dynamic Feel The Pain abates the chanting for a short while and eventually the band can delay the inevitable for no longer and Freak Scene sets Bristol on fire, inspiring frantic moshing and nostalgic hugs in equal parts, culminating in a Wembley style mass chant of don’t let me fuck up will you, ‘cos when I need a friend its still you. The lengthy guitar extravagances are all forgotten in an instant and Bristol is allowed to leave happy, although not before a surprise encore of their one legitimate chart hit Just Like Heaven which inspires much cardigan swinging and shoe shuffling from the few ladies present. Put me down for a ticket for the 2029 shows.