Nirvana: Live at Reading

RIYL: Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, The Melvins

Although they’re credited with “changing everything” nowadays, more people remember remember Nirvana for the tragedy surrounding Kurt Cobain’s life and untimely death than their killer live shows. Live at Reading should help remedy that. This 1992 performance by the band, recorded at the height of their popularity, shows everything that was great, exciting and dangerous about not only Nirvana, but the “grunge” rock scene as a whole. Surrounded not only by unheard-of popularity but also rumors about Kurt’s drug use, his health and his relationship with Courtney Love (who just gave birth to daughter Frances Bean less than two weeks earlier) the group seemed to focus all that energy, both negative and positive, into what has since gone down in history as one of their best performances. Everything is perfect here, from the set list (which includes just about everything you’d want to hear), to the feedback-drenched guitars and an ecstatic audience that goes absolutely batshit crazy for “Lithium.” From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah was good, but Live at Reading is absolutely essential. If you were a fan of Nirvana back in “the day,” then watching live footage now sometimes usually be a bit of a downer. But Live at Reading is so powerful, energetic and flawless that it can even lift the band out of its own dark legacy. At least for a little while. (Geffen 2009)

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