J. Mascis & The Fog/Dead Confederate – Live

Moho Live, Manchester. 07/12/2009
By Ian Burke

Dead Confederate make a mountainous racket. The Georgian quintet, resplendent in their gas pump attendant chic, stay rooted to the spot while dry ice as choking as their riffs floods the venue, the only flickers of movement on stage coming where guitars and drums meet in perfect torrents of noise, causing both band and audience to lurch in involuntary unison.

The band seek out downtempo, sludgy grooves which they steadfastly refuse to let go until they’ve throttled them into submission, the only downside being Hardy Morris’ strained, lightweight vocals, which are at odds with the rumbling nature of the music and could do with a few bottles of whisky and a plantation’s worth of tobacco to roughen up.
Despite this shortcoming, Dead Confederate keep heads bobbing are rarely less than impressive.

J. Mascis looks every bit the jobbing rock icon who refuses to give up and join the rat race. He has droopy eyes which have surveyed every corner of the globe, an outsized t-shirt covering his middle aged paunch, and straggly grey hair which Desert Orchid would’ve been proud of.

Looks can be deceiving, of course, just submit Dinosaur Jr’s two comeback LPs as evidence, and you’ll see that the Massachussetts native isn’t far from the peak of his powers, not that there has ever been much of a noticeable dip in his output.

In spite of the miserly turnout, it’s clear as to why legendary status has been conferred upon him. His laconic croak is as distinctive as his unique guitar sound, his face remaining a picture of serenity as his squeezes out the most convoluted hooks imaginable, his fingers dancing merrily over his instrument’s top end, while leviathan bassist, Kyle Spence, stands at 90° to the crowd, his eyes closed throughout like a benevolent deity.

There’s not a dull moment, and although his solo material is lapped up like a dehydrated cat would go at a muddy puddle, there is real frenzy whenever any Dino Jr material is aired, ‘The Wagon’ and the closing ‘Out There’ especially.
A great performance, simple as that.

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