Nirvana – Live @ Reading (1992)

Written By: Jim Markunas

Everyone from my generation, and one-to-two generations prior, have a Nirvana story and/or anecdote. Afterall, they’re one of those truly timeless bands that everyone at some point was obsessed with. Here’s mine: when I was 16, I somehow ended up at a keg party with kids much older than myself. After getting exceptionally drunk off two beers, I began to rummage through the house CD/DVD collection. To my absolute joy, I found an old VHS of “Live Tonight! Sold Out!” DGC’s second post-mortem Nirvana release (the first being Unplugged in New York). Like the kid I was, I sat as close to the TV as possible, drunkenly hanging on to Cobain’s every move.

Halfway through the video, one of the older guys at the party sat next to me on the floor and began the “one day when you’re older, you’ll no longer like Nirvana” speech. At the time, I thought he was crazy! How could anyone stop liking Nirvana?

“Everyone inevitably out-grows them,” he responded, “I used to be obsessed with Nirvana when I was your age. When you’re my age, you’ll out-grow them too. Hell, even Dave Grohl out-grew Nirvana!”

Sadly, he was right; at the age of 25, I found that my Peter Pan-like glitz and glammer over Kurt Cobain was pretty much completely gone. I never listen to my old Nirvana CDs (and believe me, my collection is extensive as fuck!), I dislike hearing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in restaurants/elevators, and I couldn’t finish “Journals” for the life of me. In 2009, I figured that I had buried Cobain, much as Courtney Love had to do back in April of 1994.

Then… Live At Reading and Sub-Pop’s re-issue of Bleach came across my desk. I had requested both releases because I felt we needed to cover them. I spent 2 or 3 days regretting that decision as both discs sat on my kitchen table. I battled with myself incessantly, “Should I play Bleach in the car? Do I really have to listen to this stuff, or can I get one of my writers to do it?” On, and on, and on… until I finally made the firm decision to put Bleach on in the car.

“Blew” came blasting through my car stereo. I began to bask in nostalgia, remembering my awkward teenage years. I found myself falling back in love with Nirvana, the same way I had loved them from 1998-2002. I learned something important: no matter what anyone says, Nirvana will always be timeless to all and new to some, much like U2 or Lynyrd Skynyrd. Nirvana is the type of band you can listen to with your parents, friends and kids. Anecdote about “Blew”: The song was supposed to be in “Drop-D” tuning, but Kurt (who had been high and nervous in the studio) had ended up detuning his bottom string an extra note too far, thereby accidentally recording the song in CADGBe, as opposed to DADGBe. Since they were on an extremely tight budget, they didn’t have time to re-record the guitar part, so they said, “Fuck it,” and released the song in the wrong tuning. That’s Grunge, baby!!!

Anyhow, I don’t review albums, so I farmed that one out to my trusty review staff (smiles), but I made the firm decision to watch and review Live At Reading.

Every die-hard Nirvana fan/geek has a bootlegged audio copy of Nirvana’s 1992 performance at the UK’s Reading Festival (I know I do). The video, on the other hand, has always been in high demand. 17 years after the fact, DGC has released an official (previously unreleased) video and audio (previously unofficially released) version of the performance. This is a must-have for any Nirvana fan, geek or casual listener.

The official package features footage of the performance, which took place on August 30, 1992 and is considered by many to be one of the greatest performances ever at the festival.

I watched the DVD from beginning to end, glued to the couch for a solid hour-and-a-half. I ignored all my e-mails, texts from girls, and other various CWG-related business, as Live At Reading had transported me to a time that was free of cell phones, e-mail, and the almighty Blackberry. Besides, Nirvana’s Seminole Reading Festival performance was killer from beginning to end. They just don’t make bands like Nirvana anymore, and nothing will ever top the innocence, hooks and punk ideals of the Grunge-era.

Thank you Sub-Pop, and thank you David Geffen!

After the credits, there’s a short, but candid scene of Kurt hanging out with a young fan and his dad. It reminded me of Kurt’s humanity, and was by far the best part of the DVD. Nirvana fans – Please go out and buy this DVD/CD set, it’s worth its weight in gold… or Platinum…

Also, everyone has a Nirvana anecdote. I invite you to write yours in our comments section below.

The CD version of the performance features the setlist (below) minus ‘Love Buzz’. CD-only and DVD-only versions of the release will be issued on the same day as the DVD package, and a double 12-inch vinyl version will come out on November 16.

The setlist for ‘Nirvana Live At Reading’ is:

‘Drain You’
‘In Bloom’
‘Come As You Are’
‘About A Girl’
‘Lounge Act’
‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’
‘On A Plain’
‘Negative Creep’
‘Been A Son’
‘All Apologies’
‘Stay Away’
‘Spank Thru’
‘Love Buzz’
‘The Money Will Roll Right In’
‘Territorial Pissings’


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