Nirvana! Live! Sold Out! review by The Grim Ringler

Nirvana! Live! Tonight! Sold Out!

Witnessing the rise and end of Nirvana from the beginning, or damned near the beginning, its interesting to look back at it all, some twelve years after the death of singer Kurt Cobain. During the era it was all hype. Haters and worshippers all made sure to have their say and everything seemed to become a mass of white noise that drowned out what the band stood for and that was their music. Above and beyond it all, it was about the music. Being able to look back at that era, that wonderful time where we all got to share the music of a band that, good or ill, changed the world.

Live is a collection of live performances and archival footage from the beginning and middle of Nirvanas career. We get to see the rise of the band and, in the performances, see how they never even quite understood themselves as a band. We hear talking heads touting how great the band is while to counter it there are thrown in the naysayers who felt the band was overrated and over hyped. The heart of this documentary though is the music. Songs from the first three Nirvana records - Bleach, Nevermind, and their b-sides record are presented here, the performances ranging from small, rowdy clubs to stadium appearances. While far from complete, this is Nirvana the band, with an emphasis where they wanted it all along on the music.

The most interesting thing here is something that you have to wonder whether Cobain would have wanted us to see it or not but its seeing how he reacts to fame that is most interesting. The larger the shows seem to get, the more disconnected Cobain seems here, become at times a petulant child rebelling against his own fame. Its hard to watch as this shy, youthful man who pours everything into his music that he has become so disconnected that hes barely there. There is magic here though, and a lot of it. No matter how far Cobain seems to stray, band mates Dave Grohl and Krist Novaselic are always there, keeping the songs going and providing a steadiness to the band. Ah, but the music. The band, when its on, its on. Theres fire, theres passion, and the angst the people loved to decry or marvel at is focused and the music comes alive. Theres a question asked of the band during the film and its basically why do you break your instruments at the end of your shows? The answer, or one of them, makes perfect sense its climax. At their best, they were music at its most pure raw, emotional, and connected. At their worst, they were still a hell of a show, Cobain forgetting his place as an artist and becoming the monkey he believed people wanted him to be. Rockstar as showman. Artist as whore.

The sound and image are as good as you can ask with footage this old but its been re-mastered and cleaned up and plays well. As for extras, you get five extra live performances that are, to me, worth the price of the disc alone. Showing Nirvana at their best, playing to a large crowd in a small club, the emotion and magic of the band comes through wonderfully. The footage isnt as clean as the main part of the disc, but to me, this is the best stuff on here. No bluster, no crap, and nothing but the music. Thats what the band should be remembered for, and thats what makes this disc something special.

The shame of this doc is that there is no footage of the rest of the bands career. I realize that this is a snapshot of the band and not a retrospective, but I really wish there could have been more to this. There is so much that is neglected, mainly performances from the last studio record the band recorded, that its hard to get a real feel for the arc of what this band was able to do. This is a bit of a nitpick though as the disc isnt about the entire career but these moments in their career.

What matters in the end is that this is a great disc and a wonderful look into one of modern musics most important and interesting bands. Until something that is truly comprehensive is released this is the best you can get and is an interesting look into what made this band so special.


8 out of 10 Jackasses

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