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Nirvana: Live at the Paramount (2011)

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Title: Nirvana: Live at the Paramount (2011)

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27 September 2011 (USA)  »

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This Nirvana show is the only known Nirvana concert that was shot on 16mm film stock. See more »

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Nirvana? Not quite.
24 July 2012 | by (Mobile, Alabama) – See all my reviews

As a concert film, this is a mediocre effort. It is comprised of shaky camera shots, blurry pans of the crowd, and the absolute darkness on and off stage.

As far as the music goes, it is decently rendered performance by Kobain and sidekicks. There appears to be a deep lack of connection by Kurt with the audience, and it is clear why Pat Fear was called into duty - the guitar playing was too much one person - after all there only was one Johnny Ramone.

During the 1980's which immediately preceded the 'grunge' of the late 80's (Pixies), and early 90's (Nirvana), hardcore punk was alive and well in Orange County, CA. I had the privilege of seeing many shows at the historic Fender's Ballroom in Long Beach including the Adolescents, Exploited, 7 Seconds, Angry Samoans, U.K. Subs and so on. A typical punk show of the time was lots of smoke, very dark, and impossible to do any type of watchable filming. Clearly, none of these obstacles were ever taken into account and what results is the viewer having the experience of looking in darkened glass windows into a bunch of blackness.

Particular irritating is the t-shirt and jeans girl/boy on each side of the stage moving spastically the entire time. At one point a bubble machine is seen continuously blowing bubbles. After viewing the concert, even though I love Nirvana's albums, I have no desire to have been there - not like the show I went to at the Hollywood Palladium with the Ramones and Social Distortion in 1986. What is lacking is a sense of viewer participation - we as the fourth wall are not shown the atmosphere of the audience; what is was like to be there; what people were doing; how many and how big were the mosh (slam) pits - there is no sense of atmosphere in which to gauge the experience - quite unlike DA Pennebaker's concert documentaries.

The sound on the blu-ray in not particularly impressive, soundstage wise, the bass is present, although the treble is non existent - this does not even bring up the problem on audio/video sync apparent throughout. I do not know why they even advertise 5.1 as there is only 2.0 - you will be deeply disappointed expecting a surround sound experience.

All in all, if you are a die hard Nirvana fan, then by all means see it. If you are not or are not a rock historian - I would give this a pass, and put on In Utero instead with a good pair of Sennheiser or Grado headphones.

Video 4/10 Audio 6/10 Quality of performance 7/10 Punk rock or grunge does not mean sloppy guitar playing or lots of distortion or amateurish guitar skills (see Johnny Thunders, Rikk Agnew, Mike Ness, etc). Unfortunately this concert does not capture Kobain at his best - fortunately we have the MTV unplugged Special which fully showcases Kobain's charisma, singing and guitar playing with great backup by the Meat Puppets. By all means see Nirvana Unplugged which I give a 10/10, especially if this is going to be your introduction to the band.


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