This list is dominated by Soundboard Recordings, recorded straight from the mixing desk, since audience recordings (with one or two honourable exceptions) are of lower sound quality. Many soundboards have surfaced amongst collectors becasue they were broadcast on radio or TV; some others have leaked out through other means.
07/23/93 - Roseland Ballroom (New Music Seminar), New York, NY, US (SBD version)
The soundboard recording of this concert surfaced in November 2001, having been uncovered by LNCU President Benoit Martigny. The show was only announced three days prior, for the New Music Seminar at the Roseland Ballroom in New York. The soundboard recording is rumoured to have been recorded 'by stealth', i.e. someone inserting their electric cables into the sound equipment while no-one was looking. Cobain reportedly overdosed just before the concert, and some lack of conviction in his vocals is detectable. There are many premiers of songs which would appear on the 'In Utero' album, which would be realeased three months subsequently. A really first-rate recording, although there are minor sound problems during the first song.
11/22/89 - U4, Wien, AT
This Austrian show first became known to collectors on the commercial bootleg 'Out Of The Blue', containing a show from 'Seattle University'. This was later proved to be a mislabel, and has since been broadcast numerous times on Austrian radio stations. This show is notable for many reasons, including an unusual setlist (featuring the completely unreleased song 'Help Me') and comic interaction with the crowd, but also boast perfect sound quality.
02/22/94 - Palaghiaccio, Roma, IT
This show is one of the most widely bootlegged of all time. All the Italian illicit CD manufacturers sprang into action after this show was broadcast on the radio, and soon became a staple of bootleg CD stalls, a distinction which it retains to this day. The sound quality is excellent (even if the drums are a little tinny and distant), hence its inclusion on this list. Most established traders, however, do note rate this show particularly highly at all: the show is very similar to other contemporaneous concerts (not that this will bother the newbie), and Cobain is conspicuous by his near total silence between songs. The video of the concert graphically reveals his desperation, and this concert would end up being the fifth-to-last full length show the band would ever perform.
10/31/91 - Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WA, US
Another widely-circulated show, having first appeared on the Into The Black 6 CD Bootleg set, and later on the KTS release 'Trick Or Treat'. This concert was the band's return to Seattle following a gruelling USA Tour to promote 'Nevermind', and was recorded by soundman Craig Montgomery. Some tracks featured on various official releases (such as CD singles and the Live! Tonight! Sold Out!! official video).
02/01/92 - The Palace, Melbourne, AU
This concert is the rarest in this section, because it has yet to be released on a commercial bootleg, but is nonetheless owned by a reasonable number of traders. Portions of the soundboard have been broadcast on JJJ radio in Australia over the years; the complete soundboard finally surfaced in 1999. This concert has been the subject of many heated debates: some consider the performance to be excellent; others (including the author) consider it to be very weak and bland. The sound quality, though, is undeniably crisp and perfect.
11/18/93 - Sony Music Studios (MTV Unplugged), New York, NY, US
The MTV Unplugged concert is of course available on the Official Release, and needs no further description here.
Peel Sessions: 10/26/89,
The John Peel Sessions, recorded on three occasions, do not really count as 'live' perfomances, but are nevertheless exceptionally well recorded.
12/13/93 - Pier 48 (MTV Live And Loud), Seattle, WA, US (TV version)
This concert was recorded by Scott Litt (who also re-mixed 'In Utero', as well as recording R.E.M.'s 'Automatic For The People'. It was broadcast on MTV on New Year's Eve in 1993, and has since appeared on numerous commercial bootlegs. Litt did particularly well to capture the energy of this perfomance so dynamically. According to Ben Sneddon, "There is a lot of energy to this show and Kurt seems really happy." A semi-complete video of the perfomance is known, but this has vastly inferior sound and should be avoided by the newbie.