NIRVANA: LIVE AT THE PARAMOUNT
The date was October 31st, 1991. The venue: The Paramount Theatre in Seattle, Washington. The name on the marquee: Nirvana. For those of you to young to remember, this was a landmark date for all of us witnessing a change of the musical landscape. As you are well aware, the now legendary album Nevermind was released just five weeks before the occasion of this show and Nirvana was in the midst of its tour of North America in support of it. Someone, probably the band themselves or the record company, made sure this would be a moment in time recorded with rolling cameras. So what we have here then is, essentially, a time capsule. A time when the local boys who were on the verge of conquering the world, returned home for a few hours to blow the roof off the house and further the myth. Ladies and Gentlemen,Nirvana: Live At The Paramount.
Here we are in 2011, twenty years later, and amazingly,the vitality and the urgency of the music practically crash through the television screen. Anyone who has seen the video for "Lithium" would be familiar with the images from this show. An edit of scenes from the concert was used as the third official release off of Nevermind. I distinctly remember feeling excited upon my first look at that video, and I suppose, setting the stage for my ultimate enjoyment of this DVD.
The set list is what one would have expected to see during the run of shows on this tour. Everything is here, except for the noticeable absence of "Come As You Are". They kick off the show with a curious selection, The Vaselines’, "Jesus Doesn’t Want Me For A Sunbeam". Of course, anyone who has followed the band knows, Kurt Cobain worshiped the quirky, Scottish cult heroes. It was not uncommon for Nirvana to play a song by the Glaswegians, but this seems ill-timed. It’s a nice song, but not something you kick off a much-hyped show with. The second song in is "Aneurysm", and this is where the fun really starts. The band sound tight and ferocious, further proof of that is the ass-kicking renditions of "Drain You", "School" and "Floyd The Barber". We are given a glimpse of what was to come from their next album, In Utero, when they play “Rape Me", as the third to last song in the set. It is a fairly faithful version of the one that was ultimately recorded for the last Nirvana studio release.
What really sets this DVD apart from other filmed Nirvana performances is the camera work itself. You feel like you’re there! The show is brimming with energy and is brilliantly captured through an equally energetic camera crew. They use both steady and hand-held 16mm cameras to record such exciting visuals.
As if to further the notion that this show really was a time capsule, we can look at the opening acts as a perfect example of that. Mudhoney and Bikini Kill would share the bill on that Halloween evening, two bands forever tied to the music scene that Nirvana thrust upon an unsuspecting world.
- Johnny Hooper