Nirvana – Unplugged in New York [DVD]
It has been 14 years since MTV taped their ever-famous and critically acclaimed Nirvana Unplugged in New York. It was November 18, 1993, at Sony Studios, just four months before the untimely death of lead singer Kurt Cobain. The recording was destined to become famous in its own right, but was rendered legendary once Nirvana was forced to end their reign as the leaders of the grunge movement.
This long-anticipated DVD package includes the original unedited footage, in its entirety, with additional never-before-seen footage, as well as the edited MTV-aired version. The extras include a short retrospective of interviews and behind-the-scenes footage called “MTV News: Bare Witness”, and the never-before seen rehearsal footage. In Dolby Stereo and 5.1 Surround, this DVD allows fans to experience the performance like never before, complete with two songs that were edited out of the MTV broadcasted version—”Something in the Way” and “Oh Me”.
Over the years I had forgotten what an amazing performance this was. Having a chance to see this iconic group perform in such an intimate setting, acoustically, introduces audiences to a completely different side of Nirvana. Knowing what I now know of the band’s repertoire, it was interesting to watch this again after all of these years and come to the realization that they didn’t play any big hits during the set; they played several covers, and some of their lesser-known titles at the time. Of course, since this performance aired, many of these tracks became hits thanks to the release of the CD in 1994. In fact, the CD recording of this performance went on to become Nirvana’s second-best-selling CD of all time.
A short interview segment included is an interesting piece which includes MTV producers and technicians along with a few of the fans who were lucky enough to be part of the audience. The producers of MTV reveal that this particular recording was one of the most nerve-racking tapings for them, because of Nirvana’s refusal to follow the template that the network had already created for the very successful Unplugged series. In typical Nirvana fashion, they refused to conform to the norm, and kind of did things their own way—it resulted in the best MTV Unplugged ever. The interviews also revealed that Kurt Cobain was incredibly nervous during the performance, but you’d would never know it as he jokes with the audience and takes his time between songs, partaking in friendly banter with the other band members as they decide what song to do next. Only during the rehearsal footage is there any sign of nervousness and frustration.
The DVD is simply packaged—there are not a lot of liner notes on the insert, and the menu was kept very simple. Although it seems like there are a lot of extras, and it took quite a while to watch everything, I was still left wanting more. As interesting as the interviews were, it was a short 14-minute piece, and my interest was greatly piqued at that point. Some commentary from Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic would have been an awesome addition.
Whether you’re a casual fan or a die-hard fan of the band, Nirvana Unplugged in New York is definitely worth owning. It’s a very powerful performance, a significant piece of musical history and a delightfully intimate look at one of the most iconic rock groups of their generation.