There’s power in that there noise: sheer power with an emotional center. Eighteen years had passed since the original incarnation of Dinosaur Jr. stepped on stage together… and then 2005 happened. A small Deep Wound reunion brought J Mascis and Lou Barlow back together and things went well, which lead to conversations about a Dinosaur Jr. reunion and this is where we are today. The band has released their first “original lineup” album in almost two decades, Beyond, and their first DVD, Live in the Middle East.
Filmed mainly from the Boston and New York shows on the 2005 tour, Live in the Middle East is astonishingly forceful. Murph’s power drumming and Barlow’s chordy bass give the low end basis for Mascis to squirrel his unique solos, mixing soul, distortion and volume. Barlow’s voice has remained the same through his years with Sebadoh, and Mascis can still yarl like an excited Stephen Wright. Minus the underlying tension, not much has really changed except for their appearance: older, heavier, grayer and sonically louder.
I cynically expected a pared-down approach to the content on Live in the Middle East, but an entire “Live @ the World Cafe” and “Chunks Live in London” on the extras catch you up on this unexpected get together. It’s a pseudo private look at their “Hey, we’re going at this again, we wanna play for you” re-emergence. Matt Dillon, Kim Gordon, Mike Watt, Steve Albini, and others drop by to play this up too.
Now for what’s really important. Only the early trilogy of albums put out by the trio are covered live: Dinosaur, You’re Living All Over Me and Bug. You get “Freak Scene”, “Little Fury Things”, “In A Jar”, an ending blast of “Just Like Heaven” and fourteen more. There’s power in those chords, sweet power.