On November 1, 1994, the special album "Nirvana MTV Unplugged" was released.
There is a constant debate among us as to which MTV Unplugged show was the best, most special, and most exciting between Nirvana and Alice in Chains, two phenomenal shows both have a huge impact on rock music.
We've already reviewed "Alice In Chains MTV Unplugged" which was MTV Unplugged's most moving show and it's hard not to mention, God forbid to compare, but just to mention the above show when talking about Nirvana's show.
So Alice's performance was very emotional and came from a very fragile and sensitive place mainly because of the appearance of Layne Staley who looked like a broken man, but also because we knew what to expect since we listened for several weeks to the album "Jar Of Flies". But we have never heard Nirvana without distortion, it is hard to describe how Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, and Krist Novoselic would sound without all the distortions and amps and hence Nirvana's performance came from somewhere else, it was a performance that came out of courage, out of daring. A performance that from start to finish was strong, stiff, and uncompromising.
Of course, it is impossible not to accept the fact that the impact of this performance had was intensified since it came out after Cobain's death. The show itself took place on November 18 at Sony Music Studios in New York, Cobain committed suicide four and a half months after the show and the album came out 7 months after his death.
(Photo: Frank Micelota)
For many months MTV executives begged Nirvana to hold the show which became an essential and significant challenge or goal in the life of a band at that time, a kind of skill test. The band members objected for a long time, especially Kurt who was terrified of performing the band's songs so naked. But during the tour with the band Meat Puppets, the friends agreed and the mythological show began to embroider skin and bones. In order to strengthen the band and in our opinion also to instill a kind of confidence in the band members, the three added their friend Pat Smear.
Rehearsals for the show took place over three days wrapped in immense tension and a strict atmosphere. Aside from the fact that Kurt had severe anxieties in his daily routine, at that time he underwent drug rehab and his level of stress and anxiety were higher than usual. The production people who were at the rehearsals said that during the rehearsals there were no smiles, laughter, or fun of any kind and everyone was anxious about the performance that Kurt would have at the show. Add to that the fact that he was anxious about the fact that he had to perform so exposed without distortions, beating drums, and screaming amps, that he insisted that his guitar be connected with the pedals to his Fender amp. The amplifier was covered with cardboard during the show so that it would take the shape of a monitor and not look like an amplifier (you can hear the sound very well in the song "The Man Who Sold the World"). Add to that the anxieties of the production company that tore every existing hair in light of the fact that Kurt refused to perform any of the band's hits and if that was not enough then they decided to take the stage and perform songs by the band Meat Puppets that no one knew. The production company tried to pressure the band to change the setlist but nothing helped.
Unlike many bands that appeared on Unplugged and brought their biggest hits, Nirvana decided to go head to head with the system, whether it was out of defiance against the music industry or whether it was out of a desire to prove the show would be amazing even without hits, we do not know but what is certain is that it succeeded. The setlist, which consisted of 14 songs, included: one song from the album "Bleach", four songs from "Nevermind" (which only "Come as You Are" was a single), 3 songs from the album "In-Utero" and 6 covers.
The sad story of the show is that Kurt asked the production to design the stage with lilies and white candles. When the production told him it would look like a funeral he said... exactly like that, design the stage like a funeral. What turned out to be reality five months later which turned this show into a sort of Kurt funeral service.
But with all the tension... the anxiety... the pressure and the horror, the band performed and recorded it in one take! Do you hear what we are saying? only one take!!!