Nirvana MTV Unplugged Was ‘Like A Funeral’


Nirvana MTV Unplugged 30 Years Later

Nirvana had a number of reputations. One of them was going against anything TV executives wanted and that’s just what happened with their Nirvana MTV Unplugged concert 30 years ago. It aired December 16, 1993 and it became a night that lived in infamy in music history considering the performance became one of the greatest ever given in any genre.
What genre was it? Who knows since it ripped the balls of aggression out of grunge, leaving only the heart. The band who also owned another reputation from their haters- they were only successful because they were loud. Folk-rock for the Meat Puppets’ “Plateau”-country for “Lake of Fire”, the gospel rock of “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me For a Sunbeam”, blues on Leadbelly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”, 70’s classic rock with David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World” -all were added and illuminated Nirvana’s own originals by finding a theme of darkness to match Cobain’s songs played like “Come As You Are” and “All Apologies”.

Nirvana went against TV executives

If there was ever a critic who misjudged, it would be one who thought Nirvana did not have incredible songwriting underneath the barrage of sonic assaults they induced on the public. They obliterated that night without rock’s standard electricity like almost no other alt. rock band or imitator could ever hope to accomplish.

By going against TV execs like they have since they had hit it big, Nirvana played a setlist no one in a million years could have guessed. All kinds of songs out of left field were performed with as much heart as Nirvana’s own best. Using deep cuts and covers of more obscure tracks, the band seemingly tried to screw MTV only to win over even more fans and give MTV’s concert added credence by showing they could be incredibly smart with fantastic melodies and vocals from Kurt Cobain underneath the aggression and distortion to prove their status as the world’s most popular band.

With a vision of the afterlife, Cobain, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, Pat Smear and Lori Goldston accomplished an almost funeral like scenario. Amidst candlelight, flowers and stools, Cobain commenced the sermon with eyes set towards escape. For most of us, the event became more evident in hindsight and of course now the album is regarded as an all-time great and the proof that this band was multi-dimensional; and their performances and songwriting were worthy of all the acclaim 25 years ago, and still worthy of it now.