Sunday, 21 June 2009

Memorable Gigs Part #1

No.1 in a series - Nirvana at The Reading Festival, 23rd August 1991

I remember having to get up and out of my sleeping bag fairly early (before midday!) after a long night spent drinking bottles of lager and cider whilst dancing ironically to 2unlimited and Altern8 around our blazing camp fire. The weather was hot and the headache was thumping as we trudged into the main arena to catch the Babes in Toyland set before being subjected to a full-on aural assault by Silverfish. I can remember clear as day Lesley Rankine stomping around the stage grunting 'hips, tits, lips, POWER!'

It was still early afternoon, and John Peel announced the next band, from Seattle, Nirvana. Kurt, Kris and Dave took to the stage along with an 'expressive dancer' in the mould of Jed Hollie, who used to prance around doing mime in front of Howard Jones concerts in the 80s. In a flurry of raw energy, they blasted their way through a couple of songs from their album 'Bleach', before treating the sparse crowd to some new songs; 'Drain You', 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', 'Come As You Are' and 'Breed', all later to become worldwide successes on the album 'Nevermind'. The songs weren't memorable, but the energy in which they were delivered was, and after a rocket-fuelled version of 'Sliver' Kurt invited Eugene Kelly on stage to duet on 'Molly's Lips'.

Molly's Lips is a cover of a song by Eugene's previous band The Vaselines (Eugene went on to front 'Captain America', who became 'Eugenius' after a wrangle with DC Comics - DC would never had heard of them if it wasn't for Kurt Cobain's interest). The song is named after Molly Wier (if you're interested), she was Hazel McWitch in Rentaghost and also fronted Tea Time tales for kids in Scotland, where Eugene grew up. After a few more songs from Bleach, Nirvana finished with a cover of 'The End' by The Doors, topical at the time as the film starring Val Kilmer was talk of the festival, and then halfway through endless, nameless Kurt decided to wreck the stage, eventually dive-bombing Dave's drumkit and dislocating his shoulder. The Reading Festival was probably sold out that year, but there weren't that many people stood by the main stage on that early afternoon. Afterwards, Chapterhouse couldn't really get me going, so I went off to the Mean Fiddler tent to sleep off my snakebites whilst half listening to Sheffield band 'The Dylans'. Ahh, where are they now?

MP3: Molly's Lips - Nirvana

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