Thursday, 20 March 2008



One of the seemingly never ending supply of Nirvana bootleg CDs from the early nineties this seventeen song recording claims to be of the band performing at The Paradiso in Amsterdam, Holland on 25 November 1991 with two tracks tacked onto the end recorded in California one month later (at the O’Brian Pavillion in Del Mar, California on 28 December 1991).

This set from Amsterdam is one of the more famous shows from the band’s history as it figures prominently on the Live! Tonight! Sold Out!! video in addition to supplying/providing four songs to the From The Muddy Banks Of Wishkah official live albums. Those tracks being “School”, “Been A Son”, “Lithium” and “Blew”.

Delving into the history books it would appear that this set is somewhat incomplete and slightly altered. Missing completely are “Come As You Are” and “Territorial Pissings” while for some reason “Smells Like Teen Spirit” has been bumped to the beginning of the disc. Would the band really have been so dumb and/or arrogant to shoot their load immediately and perform their biggest hit from the start? It is also funny to note that the absent “Come As You Are” is the infamous version that appears on Live! Tonight! Sold Out!! featuring Cobain purposely singing (screaming) the song awfully until the chorus kicks in and it is impossible to butcher the song any further.

From a performance and recording perspective this is without doubt Nirvana caught on a good day. The Immediate charge into “Drain You” coupled with the driving explosion of “Aneurysm” proves an incendiary opening as the guitars sound thick and dense, Krist plays bass a little fast and Dave pounds the drums as if he hates them. The latter song proves particularly exhilarating delivered at a pace above the recorded studio versions.

The whirling cacophony that arrives with “School” maintains an intense and relentless beat as the band plays like a machine as a ball of contain ferocity that feels on the verge of further explosion at any moment. This motion is then maintained as “Floyd The Barber” strides with precision like a motor on full steam.

Things begin to calm down as “About A Girl” and “Polly” get airings as people grab their breath with view to demonstrating their sweet and tender side. It is bullshit.

From here the band resume at breakneck speed with “Sliver” and “Breed” where Kurt can be audibly heard knocking the microphone to the ground as it lands with a big thud before the band tears into “Been A Son” without missing a beat.

With a bluster the set comes to a conclusion with a hellacious take on “Negative Creep” where its hard to work out whether the band are commanding the song or if the song is commanding the band. Again this is a version far quicker and denser than the recorded version and, dare I say, somewhat superior.

The set ends with a whistle drenched “Blew” as the band romp home into a playful and disintegrating “Love Buzz” as Kurt gets extravagant and playful seemingly on the way to destroying his equipment while also adding a few verses from “Macho Man” by the Village People in the process.

Following tacked onto the end are the two tracks from California with a fairly routine run out of “Come As You Are” followed by a thunderous airing of “Territorial Pissings” complete with vocal introduction from Krist with eventually concludes with streams of feedback and much applause, cheer and even screaming. Play hard.

On the whole this was a pretty decent bootleg, I have definitely heard worse and having been professionally recorded for VPRO-TV in the first place certainly gives it an edge from a quality perspective.

Thesaurus moment: vertex.


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