Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl, Pat Smear, Cris Kirkwood, Curt Kirkwood, Lori Goldston
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Beth McCarthy-Miller
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 65
Date: 18/03/2013

Nirvana: MTV Unplugged in New York (1993)

4 Stars (out of 4)

As You Are

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Buy Nirvana: MTV Unplugged in New York on DVD.

This single concert justified the entire existence of MTV. Nirvana was already the greatest band in the world as of 1993, but hardly anyone was prepared for quite how powerfully their songs could be translated into an intimate, acoustic setting. The stage was decorated with flowers and candles and Kurt Cobain swiveled uneasily back and forth in an office chair, wearing a fuzzy "old man" sweater. Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl sat in back, accompanied by guitarist Pat Smear (who would later join Grohl in the Foo Fighters) and cellist Lori Goldston. Cobain's voice screeched and murmured powerfully through 14 songs, but his performance on the last song, "Where Did You Sleep Last Night," is so chilling that it deserves a place of its own. As if that weren't enough, the band used their success to introduce the world to a lesser-known band, the Meat Puppets, by sharing the stage with them and performing three of their songs: "Plateau," "Oh Me" and "Lake of Fire." This show is so overwhelming and essential that it doesn't even matter if Cobain miffs the lyrics on "Pennyroyal Tea." It's good enough to convert new fans. If there's a drawback, it's the insipid, MTV-style of directing, with its restless, constantly moving camera and dissolving edits every few seconds. For broadcast, MTV stripped it all down to 45 minutes, cutting two songs in the process, but this new DVD restores it to its full 65-minute length, including all the band's deadpan chatter in-between songs. (For the morbidly curious, the shorter MTV version is included too.) The disc also comes with some amazing rehearsal footage and interviews with the lucky few who were actually there. It comes with three speaker-shattering audio mixes.

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