TOP 10 NIRVANA CONCERTS:
OVERALL BEST SHOWS
So here it is, the definitive list of ten shows.
02/19/92 - Nakano Sunplaza, Tokyo, JP
Andy Hall is a big fan of the band's last ever Japanese show: "What I can't believe is that
nobody happened to mention 02/19/92 soundboard. For cripes sakes, it's got to be one of the
absolute best soundboard recordings from a quality standpoint, and not only that, but since
Kurt had a lot of stuff going on at that point (i.e. getting married) he just sounded awesome.
In my opinion the best concert they did until the festivals later that year."
06/23/89 - Rhino Records, Westwood, CA, US
Chris Hickman opines that this was, "... by far the most intense show they ever did. Absolutely
killer peformances of "Dive," "Sifting," "About a Girl," and "Polly". Jason Everman on 2nd
guitar." This reflects the lack of other surfaced shows of this era for comparison, but until
they do, his judgement stands.
04/17/91 - O.K. Hotel, Seattle, WA, US
Another show which featured on BEST SETLIST and
MOST ENTHUSIASM, and would probably be worthy of inclusion for
the premiere of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' alone, but since it is notable in so many other
respects, this easily makes the Top 10. Chris Hickman rates it very highly: "Best setlist of
91, great long, historic show."
10/11/91 - St. Andrew's Hall, Detroit, MI, US
According to Brian Johnson, "The best Nirvana concert ever in terms of enthusiasm is without
question 10/11/91. The band was in fifth gear all night long, the performance is near flawless,
it was easy to see the band was having a good time playing. This has to rank among the top ten
Nirvana concerts of all time, only the average sound quality is a debit to this show." Kevin
Roiz is in full agreement.
10/31/93 - James A. Rhodes Arena, University of Akron, Akron, OH, US
Formerly available only on poor quality audio, a decent upgrade surfaced in 2001 revealing a
terrific show, featuring the last performance of 'Dive'. This Hallowe'en show is distinguished
by a 'Barney & Slash guitar solo dual!' between Kurt and Pat, and also contains a lot of
jokes. Kevin Roiz notes the 'energetic' perfomance.
02/14/94 - Le Zénith, Paris, FR
A very popular choice. Roar Aasheim comments, "The ultimate ending. Everything is perfect.
Nirvana is on the top of the world. It's all downhill from now." Chris Hickman concurs, "[The]
most intense show of the entire In Utero tour, American or European. The best "Where Did You
Sleep Last Night?" (even better than 'Unplugged'), a
wonderful "Polly" and "Dumb," one of the best parts of this show is that the cello is up front
in the mix. Solid performances of all of their songs." David Lajeunesse sums up, "The perfect
08/30/92 - Reading Festival, Reading, UK
Chris Hickman describes the scene lucidly, "The "comeback" show, whose relevance is slightly
lost now, but watching the video will show just how excited tens of thousands of people were
to see Nirvana's first show in almost 2 months, first UK show in over 9, and last UK show
ever. The longest setlist they ever did, they hit every corner of their catalog and then some,
bringing out some best ever versions of some songs ("Lithium"), and some worst ever
performances of others ("D7," "Love Buzz")."
11/25/90 - The Off Ramp Cafe, Seattle, WA, US
Having also featued in BEST SETLIST and
MOST ENTHUSIASM in this section, this show also makes the cut for
the final ten. Chris Hickman's favorite: "#1 show of all time as far as I'm concerned. 2nd in
intensity to 06/23/89, but the setlist was by far the best ever, and some of the best
performances of many songs ("In Bloom," "Sappy," "Pay to Play") and the whole performance was
just stunning." Roar Aasheim simply adds, "No explanation needed," - that is, of course, until
you've heard it!
Some collectors have expressed incredulity that we have recommended an incomplete concert
as our top choice. The fact that the 11/25/90
recording is currently incomplete is a shame, but does not detract from the performance, which
scores highly under all our criteria. Indeed, over half of those experts who contributed to
this document considered it to be their personal favorite show. We hope that the full recording
will surface one day.
We conclude this document with thanks to all those who have helped to surface every
recording we list here: without the countless hours of scouring the earth and web for these
concerts, we would not be able to listen to them today. Perhaps future surfacings will affect
our judgement in this section: of the many concerts yet to be heard by collectors (see
here for a list), perhaps 08/06/93 or 12/31/90 will
warrant a mention here.