Noise Annoys: Nirvana's Live & Loud on vinyl, Belfast rocks for choice and Mclusky do Belfast/Dublin
Nirvana's Live & Loud gets the deluxe vinyl treatment, Belfast hosts a Rock for Choice concert and Mclusky do Belfast/Dublin...
IF YOU grew up loving Nirvana during their 1990s heyday, chances are you whiled away many a Saturday afternoon trawling independent record shops for exorbitantly priced bootleg CDs – I'm thinking of you, Hector's House – featuring illicitly recorded live shows and/or rare tracks.
Kurt Cobain and co tackled bootleggers profiting from their hard to find/unreleased material at the height of their fame with Nirvana's official odds 'n' sods collection Incesticide in 1992 – which, ironically enough, subsequently inspired the long-running Outcesticide bootleg series.
However, despite their legendary prowess as an explosive live act and the fact that several key concerts were professionally recorded for posterity (resulting in the odd live b-side popping up on their singles), Nirvana never got around to releasing an official live record prior to their untimely demise in 1994.
The band's November 1993 MTV Unplugged show appeared posthumously seven months after Cobain's suicide, while 1996's underwhelming 'live compilation' From The Muddy Banks of The Wishkah was most notable for the vinyl version including an entire side dedicated to snippets of onstage chat/banter from the late Nirvana leader and his cohorts, drummer Dave Grohl and bassist/comedian Krist Novoselic.
Thankfully, the rise of the internet in the late 90s enabled fans around the world to start trading live bootlegs in earnest (mostly on cassette) which allowed us to chart Nirvana's short but extraordinary career from their scrappy live debut at a house party in Raymond, Washington, in 1987 through to their swansong on March 1 1994 in Munich.
More official Nirvana live releases finally started appearing as part of the 20th anniversary deluxe re-issues of the band's studio albums: the deluxe Bleach mystified fans by featuring a fairly unremarkable show from Portland's Pine Street Theatre in 1990 instead of, for example, cleaned up versions of classic Bleach-era boots like Blind Pig or Out of The Blue ("play the f***ing guitar, man!"), while the Nevermind 'super deluxe' combo included a full DVD of their excellent and much-bootlegged show at Seattle's Paramount Theatre in October 1991.
Nirvana's incredible 1992 Reading Festival set received a much deserved standalone CD and DVD release in 2009 and remains one of the definitive portraits of the band at the peak of its powers, while those who shelled out for the bells 'n' whistles re-issue of In Utero in 2014 were treated to a DVD of the full uncut set from Nirvana's December 1993 MTV Live & Loud show, later released as a standalone DVD along with the aforementioned Paramount Theatre gig.
Having already fallen mysteriously out of print, Live & Loud is now getting a re-release in digital form and on gatefold vinyl as (and I quote) "a two–LP set pressed on 180-gram audiophile black vinyl" at £26.99 and "a limited edition two-LP, 180-gram 'half-n-half' coloured vinyl (red/translucent and clear/blue)" for just three brick more, with "both vinyl editions including a replica backstage pass as an audio download card".
It's definitely one of the band's better In Utero-era performances, with the addition of Pat Smear on second guitar and backing vocals adding audible heft and sweetness to their live attack.
As mentioned, you get the full show compared to the original edited TV broadcast, which amounts to an extra eight songs including a great 'plugged' version of their Bowie cover The Man Who Sold The World and powerful renditions of Heart Shaped Box, All Apologies, Come As You Are, Blew and School – though the 13 minute version of their traditional climactic 'destruction jam' Endless, Nameless really requires the added visual spectacle of the band's guitar-smashing, stage destroying antics to make it tolerable.
Naturally for 1993, it's an In Utero-heavy set, with no Smells Like Teen Spirit or indeed any real rarities to speak of. Despite the focus on their then just-released third LP, the show arguably peaks with a positively pulverising version of Nevermind anthem Lithium that's guaranteed to raise hairs on the back your neck right from the first chorus.
The band were clearly not in talkative form, with chatter limited to the odd "thank-you" and a polite introduction for Lori Goldstein who guests on cello during the Bowie cover (playfully introduced by Kurt as "a David Boo-wie song"), probably due to the TV cameras tracking their every move – Cobain even spat into the lens at one point – though there is one nice moment where you can hear him chuckle at an indistinguishable audience heckle during a lull in an otherwise scorching run through Pennyroyal Tea.
So, do you need the Live & Loud album in your Nirvana collection? Well, of course you do. It's just a matter of how much you want to shell out – and that coloured vinyl set sure is pretty. Hit up your friendly independent record shop and fondle longingly from today.
On the subject of Nirvana, the band were big supporters of the pro-choice-orientated Rock For Choice concert initiative set up by their buddies L7 back in the day – and it just so happens that there's a Belfast Rock For Choice show happening next weekend at Ulster Sports Club.
It will take place at 4pm on Saturday September 7 immediately after the Rally For Choice event (1.30pm at Writer's Square) and features a fantastically strong line-up of local bands in Strange New Places, New Pagans, Gender Chores, Sister Ghost and Blakbyrd.
Entry is £5, with proceeds going towards abortion rights campaign Alliance For Choice.
:: GIG OF THE WEEK
Mclusky, New Pagans and Junk Drawer, September 6, Voodoo, Belfast
DID angular rock powerhouse Mclusky ever play Belfast before they split? No-one I know can recall, but the good news is that OG Mcluskyites Falco (shouting/guitars) and Jack (drums) are teaming up with Damien from fabulously named Bristolian noiseniks The St Pierre Snake Invasion as Mclusky* to bring the 'greatest' hits of this influential, entertainingly scabrous trio to our fair town for a sure-to-be thunderous show at Voodoo on Friday September 6.
As Falco himself puts it: "We play all of the good songs, about 18 of them, and then we collapse."
You couldn't be bad to that (well, provided you actually like Alan Is A Cowboy Killer, Lightsaber C*******ing Blues, That Man Will Not Hang, F*** This Band and a few of the other 14 'bangers' they'll be doling out), especially not when there's a pair of top drawer support bands to enjoy in the form of New Pagans and Junk Drawer – both acts cursed with the career-neutering black spot of 'Noise Annoys favourites' status, of course.
The price for this feast of tinnitus and tumescence inducing alternative rock catharsis? £15 on the door, or £16.31 in advance via Eventbrite.co.uk if you're a nervous sort who needs to have a ticket in hand before leaving the house.
Indeed, anyone planning on 'doing the double' by hitting both Belfast and the following night's Dublin show can also get a ticket for the latter engagement at The Workman's Club on Saturday September 7 via Eventbrite for €16.74, which entitles you to another pair of full sets from Mclusky* and Junk Drawer plus a show-opening performance by Dublin types Slouch.