As many fans have already know, this year marks the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s final studio album In Utero. Not only did the band re-release the album to commemorate the event, they also released the uncut version of the infamous Live and Loud concert. It’s not as memorable as their unplugged performance, but for some reason this show is their grittiest, rawest, and most violent one yet. With a killer setlist and the guys giving one of their best performances, this is a show every Nirvana fan has to see.
As I mentioned before, the setlist is great mainly because it features so many songs from In Utero. It seemed that the guys didn’t get to perform these tracks a lot especially for television appearances, so it’s great to hear many of them live. The often overlooked “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” opens the show and if you never noticed the song before, this version will quickly make you a fan. Since it’s the first song of the night it finally has a chance to be front and center, rather than being buried and forgotten like it is on the record. It’s on this track that you can really hear how gravelly and rough Kurt’s vocals are. There are moments during the show where you see him almost straining to get the notes out. This is what makes his voice one of the most recognizable even today.
There are the classic Nirvana songs found on the DVD, such as “Drain You” and “Breed” and as always they sound great, but there are a few songs here that standout from the others. One of them is “Serve the Servants.” Aside from sounding amazing there’s nothing notable about the performance, but there’s a slight lyric change during the second verse: “I tried hard to have a sister, but instead I had a dad.” I don’t know why but this really sticks out in my mind. It just sounds really good and puts a different spin on the well known song. Another great performance is “Scentless Apprentice.” This has always been a really brutal song and Nirvana really brings that vibe alive here. It’s intense, loud, and filled with Kurt’s angst ridden howls. But what really makes the concert a must have are the previously unaired tracks.
Just as with Unplugged, this concert was previously aired on MTV where it was cut for broadcast purposes. Now fans can enjoy the show in its entirety and there are amazing songs that were cut out the first time around. One of these is the electric version of “The Man Who Sold the World.” The guys had already wowed viewers by playing this song acoustically, but here they transform it from a somber tune to an unapologetic rock song. Plus, they bring back cellist Lori Goldstein for several songs during the evening. Another great unaired track is the closer “Endless, Nameless.”
This song was part of the original broadcast, but it was shortened at the time. This has got to be the best version of the hidden tune. It begins with a cool bass jam that results in Krist pounding his bass on stage like he wants to kill it. The way this version starts out slow and menacing before exploding in a mass of noise and screaming, makes it one of the most brutal and violent performances of the song. And in Nirvana fashion the show ends with all their instruments being destroyed. As the credits run the camera pans over the grisly sight of snapped guitar necks, neglected bass bodies, and spilled water as if mapping out a crime scene.
There are also small moments during the concert that make it memorable and fun, such as the random times when Kurt walks up to the microphone and smiles. It’s the most adorable thing and shows that he wasn’t always the depressed rock star he’s often made out to be. Also, there is some behind the scenes footage that’s small but enjoyable, such as seeing Kurt getting prepared for the next track and Krist exchanging some cynical banter with the crowd. It may not be much, but it’s like a small bonus for fans whether or not they’ve seen they show before. But the DVD features more extras once the concert is over.
Everyone loves DVDs for the bonus features, which is something concert films always lack. Nirvana fixes that by including some extra performances from the In Utero era. It even features rehearsal footage from the Live and Loud show. Though the sound isn’t that great on the footage, it’s still great to watch mainly because it shows the band playing “Very Ape,” which suggests that it was in their setlist at one time. The performances from French TV show Nulle Part Ailleurs are also notable because all the members sport matching formal attire similar to The Kinks. It’s here where you’ll also find a gut wrenching version of “Drain You.” This song stands out from the others here because there’s a point where Kurt drops his guitar, walks away from the microphone, only to return with the most bone chilling scream. He then does the rest of the song with just the mic in hand making him seem like a true frontman.
Overall, the DVD gets 9/10. It may not be the best Nirvana live DVD you can get, but it’s pretty high on the list. This concert features a number of songs from their third that didn’t seem to get much television exposure, plus you get the entire concert, which features previously unaired tracks like “All Apologies,” “Sliver,” and “Come As You Are.” As a bonus, there are also several other television performances from the era along with the normal and director’s cut of the “Heart Shaped Box” music video. The disc is a great way to remind people why the album and the band themselves are so amazing.