Nirvana Live At The Paramount

"Essential"

Nirvana Live At The Paramount Review


It's amazing in many ways that Nirvana's Paramount show has taken 20 years to receive the release it deserves. Portions of the show have found their way onto other DVD's (most notably Live! Tonight! Sold Out!) and CD's, but it's taken the anniversary edition of Nevermind to prompt the show to surface in its entirety. With other bands, a belated release two decades late, may feature material that on closer inspection really is scraping the barrel, that's certainly not the case here.

There's also a distinct possibility that Live At The Paramount could become the definitive live Nirvana release. Whereas for example the equally brilliant MTV Unplugged and Live At Reading have garnered much praise, some of their appeal comes from the sense of occasion (one night only stripped back acoustic and barnstorming festival set respectively). Although the Paramount show is a Halloween event it doesn't rely upon that, as it's selling point. Instead it's Cobain, Novoselic, and Grohl at the top of their game, firing on all cylinders with raw intensity keeping you glued to the screen.

The only criticism that you could have of the show is the at times overly intrusive cameras, something that Cobain and Novoselic note a number of times between songs (Kurt's line; "smile you're on candid camera, there's more cameras here than at 7-Eleven", is hilarious). On the other hand though the constant presence of a camera crew in close proximity to the band makes the members (and their brilliantly kitsch 'go go dancers') more conscious of their stage theatrics, which ultimately leads to an even better show. So in due course you get Cobain writhing about on the floor, Novoselic playing 'bassball' (deliberate joke) by smacking Kurt's smashed guitar with his bass, and Grohl being the most energetic drummer you've ever seen.

Although very few of the crowd members wore costumes to celebrate the occasion, the band look suitably spooky for a Halloween show. Cobain looks slightly ghoulish behind his mop of hair, Novoselic looks like a giant with an extremely low-slung bass and the seemingly undernourished Grohl looks almost skeletal bathed in the red lights behind the drums. Musically the songs you're familiar with are played to perfection with added venom as bass and lead guitars fight for prominence. Of particular note is the full band version of the Vaselines' 'Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam', a blistering version of 'School', the "white boy funk" intro to 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', Dave and Kurt harmonising during 'Polly', an early version of 'Rape Me', and the chaos of set closer 'Endless Nameless'.

Admittedly the standalone release of the show (which is also included with the super deluxe version of Nevermind) is a little light on extras (the four familiar videos for the Nevermind singles is the only bonus material here).

However that's a minor gripe, when the main feature is as good a show as it is, there's no need for material to pad out the package. For fans both devoted and casual then, Live At The Paramount may just become your new favourite Nirvana show.

10/10

Jim Pusey



Facts and Figures

Genre: Documentaries

In Theaters: Tuesday 27th September 2011

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5

IMDB: 7.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: N/A

Producer: N/A

Starring: Krist Novoselic as himself, as himself, as himself

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