DVD Review: Dinosaur Jr. ? Live in the Middle East

Dinosaur Jr.

Live in the Middle East

Image Entertainment (ID32462JDVD)

Grade: ****

An odd-looking, Muppet-like monster appears on stage playing the role of a cheerleader.

When Dinosaur Jr. takes the stage at New York?s venerable Irving Plaza lounge, the furry beast gives drummer Murph a hug, like he was being welcomed home. And in a way, that night in 2005 was a sort of homecoming for him and the rest of the reunited Jr.

Together again, after 16 years apart, Murph, guitarist J. Mascis and bassist Lou Barlow were playing live shows for the first time since Barlow was essentially fired from the band. Aside from Murph?s moment with the costumed ogre, there wasn?t anything touchy-feely about the event.

When Dinosaur Jr. was ready, the trio launched into a squealing, foundation-shaking version of ?Gargoyle.? And the place erupted. Backed by Murph?s rugged stickwork and Barlow?s demonic bass growl, Mascis cast a spell over the crowd-surfing audience with guitar solos that screamed and soared and dived all over the place.
Nothing had changed. Time hadn?t softened them one bit. Dinosaur Jr. was still playing as noisy and as loud as they ever had.

The first half of the show was a wall of volume, punctuated by Mascis? schizophrenic guitar wailing. Yet, at the heart of this beautiful car wreck was melody, lonely and sometimes damaged and dark, but always gripping.
Ear-shattering squalls like ?Little Fury Things? and ?Bulbs of Passion? would give way to hook-filled classics ?Freak Scene? and ?The Wagon.? Multiple encores ensued, and everybody was sated.

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