this record probably marked one of the finest moments in the history of mtv to date. nirvana had re-written the rules of popular music with the extraordinary popularity of nevermind in 1991 and had somehow captured everything that it meant to be a teenager in a bizarre post-80's world and put it down on one disc. nevermind was the antithesis of all that had emobodied the 80's, things like wall street or soulless synth-pop and nirvana were running the risk of being pigeon-holed as nothing more than a cultural phenomenon stuck in their time.
sitting down on the sofa with a hangover and flicking through the channels to find the live recording of this set just beginning came like a revelation against that background. where there had only been rage and passion before, now there seemed to be compassion and a calmer, purer music. i get shivers even now thinking about what might have been had these guys been around for a few more years. the range made nirvana complete and the vision of kurt as this vulnerable, lost looking guy with these baleful eyes and pleading tone in his voice will forever define him to his fans.
grunge was always about embracing the imperfections in sound and enjoying whatever happened on the day with live performances. peculiarly it is the covers that stand out because here without rehearsal is our only evidence of how nirvana might otherwise have sounded on future live sets. it is unembellished and glorious for it.
the versions of bowie's man who sold the world and the meat puppets' plateau and lake of fire were so good that they must have sold records for the respective artists. and come the rendition of ledbelly's where did you sleep last night you can almost feel kurt's pain.
is this the masterpiece? does it matter..?