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    Dinosaur Jr. no relic

    Friday, July 15, 2005
    Music writer

    NORTHAMPTON – It’s been 15 years since the original lineup of Dinosaur Jr. parted ways and it’s been about the same amount of time since the nightclub Pearl Street has seen mosh pits and stage divers.

    Both returned on Tuesday night as guitarist J Mascis, bassist Lou Barlow and drummer Murph dredged up the noise and fury of their seminal rock sound with a reunion show at the Northampton venue.

    While the modest mosh pit and two exuberant stage divers seemed like relics from the past, Dinosaur Jr still sounds as relevant as they did in 1985, busting out of the Western Massachusetts music scene to take on the world.

    Dinosaur Jr. offered a 75-minute, 15-song performance for the hometown crowd that jammed into the upstairs Ballroom at Pearl Street. Twenty years ago, Dinosaur Jr. formed as a reaction to a stale rock environment, melding a post-punk, reconstituted hard-core sound into something new. Welcome back, boys. Rock’n’ roll just may need you once again.

    Opening with "In a Jar," the band launched its sonic assault.

    Yes, it was loud, and there are bits of cracked plaster and drywall to prove it, but it was loud in a glorious this-is-how-rock-is-supposed-to-sound way. With Dinosaur Jr., the volume is merely a by-product of the intensity, the residue of the song.

    Mascis was, true to form, unaffected. He moved from visceral thrash to bouncy folk (often in the same song) on several different guitars. The acclaimed guitarist, credited with igniting a music revolution, had only this to say to the hometown fans; "Hello" (when he came to the stage) and "Thanks a lot," when the set was complete.

    Barlow introduced most of the songs, including "Mountain Man," which he sang with Mascis. He did reference the history of the band on one occasion.

    "The first time we ever played Pearl Street, we opened for Jason and the Scorchers," he said. "I don’t remember when that was exactly."

    From "Little Fury Things" to "Sludgefeast," the trio continued to pound away at the core of their classic catalog. Calling it "the best song we ever recorded," Barlow set off "Bulbs of Passion," complementing Mascis’ guitar shredding with a wailing vocal. They closed the set with "Forget the Swan" and returned twice for encores offering "Freakscene" and their cover of the Cure’s "Just Like Heaven."

    Magik Markers performed a totally contrived and derivative 30-minute set that finished with lead "singer" Elisa Ambrogio imploring the audience to "not grow up to be like your parents," apparently not realizing that most in the crowd were older than anyone in the band. Blue Vagrant opened with a 30-minute set.

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