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Ranked #1 in Kerrang Magazine's "100 Gigs That Shook The World" and voted as "Nirvana's #1 Greatest Moment" by fans in an NME poll, Nirvana's historic August 30, 1992 headlining appearance at the UK's Reading Festival is one of the most bootlegged concerts in the annals of rock n roll. Now, fans will have an opportunity to own a pristine copy of that entire performance -- color-corrected video from the original film with audio sourced from the original multi-track masters.
While the show's centerpiece was a performance of nearly the entire Nevermind tracklist, also noteworthy were early performances of three as yet unrecorded songs which wouldn't be released until 2 years later on In Utero: "All Apologies," "Dumb," and in its first ever public performance, "Tourettes." The career-spanning setlist also reached back to the band's 1989 Sub Pop debut album, Bleach, for "Blew," "About A Girl," "School," "Negative Creep" and first single "Love Buzz," and even further back to the mid-'80s for "Spank Thru." Other songs from the Reading set would appear in studio form on the Incesticide compilation later in the year: "Aneurysm," "Been A Son" and "Sliver." Additionally, the band played a pair of beloved covers by two bands that helped shape the formative Nirvana sound ? "The Money Will Roll Right In" by Fang and "D-7" by The Wipers.
NirvanaPrior to Nirvana, alternative music was consigned to specialty sections of record stores, and major labels considered it to be, at the very most, a tax write-off. After the band's second album, 1991's Nevermind, nothing was ever quite the same, for better and for worse. Nirvana popularized punk, post-punk, and indie rock, unintentionally bringing it into the American mainstream like no other band to date. While their sound was equal parts Black Sabbath (as learned by fellow Washington underground rockers the Melvins) and Cheap Trick, Nirvana's aesthetics were strictly indie rock. They covered Vaselines songs, they revived new wave cuts by Devo, and leader Kurt Cobain relentlessly pushed his favorite bands -- whether it was the art punk of the Raincoats or the country-fried hardcore of the Meat Puppets -- as if his favorite records were always more important than his own music. While Nirvana's ideology was indie rock and their melodies were pop, the sonic rush of their records and live shows merged the post-industrial white noise with heavy metal grind. And that's what made the group an unprecedented multi-platinum sensation. Jane's Addiction and Soundgarden may have proven to the vast American heavy metal audience that alternative could rock, and the Pixies may have merged pop sensibilities with indie rock white noise, but Nirvana pulled at all together, creating a sound that was both fiery and melodic. Since Nirvana was rooted in the indie aesthetic but loved pop music, they fought their stardom while courting it, becoming some of the most notorious anti-rock stars in history. The result was a conscious attempt to shed their audience with the abrasive In Utero, which only partially fulfilled the band's goal. But by that point, the fate of the band and Kurt Cobain had been sealed. Suffering from drug addiction and manic depression, Cobain had become destructive and suicidal, though his management and label were able to hide the extent of his problems from the public until April 8, 1994, when he was found dead of a self-inflicted shotgun wound. Cobain may not have been able to weather Nirvana's success, but the band's legacy stands as one of the most influential in rock & roll history.
Nirvana, Winner, Best Alternative Music Performance
Nirvana, Nominee, Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group
Nirvana, Nominee, Best Alternative Music Performance
MTV Award (1994)
Nirvana, Nominee, Video of the Year,Nirvana, Nominee, Viewer's Choice,Nirvana, Winner, Best Alternative Video
MTV Award (1993)
Nirvana, Winner, Best Alternative Video
Nirvana, Nominee, Best Rock Song
Nirvana, Nominee, Best Alternative Music Performance
MTV Award (1992)
Nirvana, Nominee, Video of the Year,Nirvana, Winner, Best Alternative Video,Nirvana, Winner, Best New Artist
Certain concerts create a legend as soon as the final note ceases to ring. Nirvana's headlining appearance at the 1992 Reading Festival is one of these shows, a concert that arrived at precisely the right moment and stands as testament to a band at the peak of its powers...and right before things started to turn sour within the Nirvana camp. Despite the happy news of the birth of Frances Bean Cobain a mere 12 days before this August 30 festival, rumors swirled around Nirvana right up until the band hit the stage. Kurt Cobain took full advantage of these scurrilous stories, making his entrance in a hospital gown and wheelchair pushed by journalist Everett True. Cobain feebly reached for the microphone to croak out the opening lines of "The Rose," only to collapse onto the stage, milking the drama for a moment before leading Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl through a ferocious "Breed." This impish sense of humor has been obscured over the years, lost under the weight of the band's tragic legacy, along with the fact that Nirvana could actually be fun as well as furious. Live at Reading brings all this roaring back. This is Nirvana's purest blast of rock & roll: there's a boundless, invigorating energy here and, just as importantly, there's a sense of joy to the performances, a joy that bubbles to the surface when Kurt laughs during the intro of "Sliver" but can be heard throughout the show, as the band rushes in tandem, pushing the tempos on "Aneurysm" and "Territorial Pissings," ebbing and flowing as one. Hints of this could be heard on the live comp From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah, but this is a complete document of Nirvana in full flight and one of the greatest live rock & roll albums ever.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Universal Music Group
Andy Beta, Paste Magazine
Nirvana's headlining performance at the 1992 Reading Festival feels at once indescribable and quaint.
Josh Modell, The Onion A.V. Club
It's a monster of a concert film in any case, with a band at the height of its powers...