MUSIC / Business as usual, almost: Nirvana - Roseland Ballroom, New York
Thursday 29 July 1993
The band appeared on time at 9.30 and faced a mosh-pit of rucking, shirtless fans, extending three-quarters of the way down the Roseland's dance floor. The frail Kurt Cobain, on voice and guitar, settled in beside a tower of speakers, thus obscuring himself from the sightline of the industry suits and VIPs seated in a balcony by the stage. The first two songs were new - 'Serve the Servants' and 'Scentless Apprentice' - and made clear straight away that the band don't intend to compromise in order to match the five million sales of the Nevermind album. By comparison, 'Breed', 'Lithium' and 'Come As You Are' from that previous recording sounded almost congenial. Static and indifferent, Cobain hunkered down over his guitar, leaving the bassist to bounce around the stage and make prophetic announcements between the songs. 'There's a new music taking the world by storm,' he warned. 'It's called alternative rock.'
Big John the roadie joined in on guitar to bolster the heavier rockers ('School', 'Blew' and 'Aneurysm') and the band gradually tightened - a fierce attack of big tribal drums, thick guitars, fluid bass lines and Cobain's voice, which stretched from weary compliance to screams of incoherent anger. The new songs 'Heart-shaped Box', 'Penny Royal Tea' and 'Rape Me' stood apart as impressive, though were still close to what is almost a Nirvana formula. 'Tourrets' had Cobain impassively howling 'Baby, I'm dead' and was perhaps the highlight.
Bringing on a cellist, Cobain threw back his hair and addressed the audience himself. 'Have patience,' he said nonchalantly, switching to an acoustic guitar and a stool. 'We're one of the biggest rock and roll bands in history.' There followed a selection of dreamy, narcotic ballads, including 'Polly' from Nevermind, and 'Dumb' from In Utero (chorus: 'I think I'm just happy / I think I'm just dumb').
The encore was, inevitably, 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', at the end of which the band left Cobain alone on the stage, lying on his back, wrestling his guitar to produce a maelstrom of sustained feedback. It took about five minutes. Then he got up, waved jauntily and sauntered off. Business as usual, really.
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
- 2 Scottish independence: Learn from Quebec's mistakes and beware of promises. Vote Yes.
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 4 Revealed after 75 years of secrecy: 'Fifi' the glamorous WW2 special agent who tested British spies' resolve
- 5 Have you heard about the film Singapore has banned its people from watching? Well, you have now
Laurie Lee's Rosie: What is it like to inspire a writer's work and be immortalised forever on the page?
Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
Doctor Who series 8: Time Heist pictures revealed ahead of episode 5
The Walking Dead season 5 air date, trailer and season 4 recap
Star Wars 7 leaked set photo of Adam Driver changes everything
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'