LIVE REVIEW: J. Mascis, The Cluny, Newcastle

J.MASCIS ... the Dinosaur Jr. frontman played an intimate gig at The Cluny.
J.MASCIS ... the Dinosaur Jr. frontman played an intimate gig at The Cluny.
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WITH his baggy clothing, slouched posture and mane of shaggy grey hair, J. Mascis has never been one to shy away from stereotypes.

In a way, though, it’s this slack demeanour that’s made him and Dinosaur Jr. keystones in the past three decades of American rock, and why this solo show packed out The Cluny even on a lazy Sunday night shrouded by the threat of snow.

J.MASCIS ... the Dinosaur Jr. frontman played an intimate gig at The Cluny.

J.MASCIS ... the Dinosaur Jr. frontman played an intimate gig at The Cluny.

Sporting his distinctive vocal drawl, the 49-year-old turned in a terrific set spanning his entire recording career, all with the bare minimum of fuss or trivial crowd interaction.

Spawned from the mid-’80s US hardcore scene, Dino Jr. stood out from their contemporaries primarily through that trademark sloppiness, together with Mascis’s penchant for accessible and even poppy hooks.

Amid all that, he also became one of the era’s iconic guitarists, spawning legions of imitators yet very few in the way of equals.

The fact he arrived with no backing was, therefore, of little significance; not when he packed his usual stash of loop, phaser and (of course!) distortion pedals, which appropriately enough made their entrance during exhilarating early classic Little Furry Things.

That particular number was the first of a generous helping of Dinosaur favourites, but for what it’s worth his recent solo material was greeted with equal warmth.

As if to demonstrate that enduring quality, the bulk was taken from last year’s LP Tied to a Star, from the melodic strum of Every Morning to the fragile falsetto of Stumble and the thrilling instrumental Drifter.

He even found time for a pair of covers, with an excellent rendition of Mazzy Star’s Fade Into You joining his beloved reinvention of The Cure’s Just Like Heaven, played last after perhaps the world’s shortest - and least convincing - encore break.

Essentially, then, there was something for Mascis fans of every ilk, and in playing so masterfully into his reputation the show only enhanced the aura surrounding this slumbering genius and his gloriously lax musical gifts.