Nirvana – Live at Reading 1992, 02/11/2009

November 12, 2009 by  

nirvana_live_at_reading

Great bands are defined by great gigs. Gigs that aren’t necessarily note perfect, but ones which leave a lasting impression and subsequently cement a band’s place in history. The Rolling Stones at Altamont is their most memorable gig, yet for all the wrong reasons and Spike Island certainly didn’t find the Stone Roses on their best form, but still to this day is regarded as the crowning achievement for not only the band but the whole of Madchester. For Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, it could be easily argued that the gig captured on this hour and half DVD was their defining moment.

By 1992 Nirvana was at their peak. Dave Grohl was now a permanent member adding his visceral drumming skills to their breakthrough 1991 album Nevermind, which saw the band crossover into the realm of MTV and dominate the alt rock and grunge scene. This domination propelled them to festival headliner status in 1992 and with their new found fame came this performance.

The performance is tight and uncomplicated. The set is an unrelenting play-through of their back catalogue, which includes songs from their sub-pop debut Bleach nearly all of Nevermind and a few unreleased songs from In Utero. Kurt Looks comfortable in his mock patient get-up and breaks for the odd refrain and his usual purposefully bad guitar playing and singing, but most of the aggression and true bursts of angst come out in the explosive encore, which culminates in the band destroying the stage and Kurt playing a twisted version of the American national anthem. It’s the encore which gives the DVD its purposefulness and the gig’s claim to the title of all time Nirvana gig. It’s as un-predictable and compelling 20 minutes of live music that you’re ever likely to see in your life and reaffirms what made Nirvana so great.

Unfortunately, the filming is bad and amateurish, and was not done in widescreen, giving the whole process a handy cam feel. Yet, surprisingly the sound quality is superb and encapsulates the visceral overdrive of Kurt’s guitar and Grohl’s frantic drumming perfectly. If only Kurt was here to reap the vast financial rewards this DVD will bring it would seem that little bit sweeter – you can’t help but feel it’s yet more of Kurt’s legacy being sold-off to fund someone else’s hedonistic lifestyle. From a fans perspective though this is a must have, if you can bear to witness it that is. As the final titles role, you get that sinking feeling of knowing that you’ll never get to witness it in person – could be worse though, you could of been one of those who spent their £40 on a day ticket for The Wonderstuff that year!

[rating:4.5]

By Chris Cummins


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