Nirvana – Live at Amsterdam Paradiso – November 25, 1991 – VPRO – Netherlands Radio –
Nirvana this weekend – a concert recorded in Amsterdam on November 25, 1991 by Dutch radio outlet VPRO. Two months after the release of Nevermind – two months after the release of Smells Like Teen Spirit. Almost impossible to imagine it was 30 years ago.
Thirty years after mainstream Pop got its proverbial head blown off by the onslaught of sound and energy that came to be known as Grunge. In their relatively short lifespan, Nirvana sold some 75 million albums worldwide and became indelibly linked as the cornerstone of Generation X. Rejecting the notion they were anything near resembling Hair Metal (a genre Kurt Cobain was known to despise on a lot of levels) and were more aligned with the ethos of UK Punk of the 70s (the social alienation and disenfranchisement part) they clicked with a worldwide audience as a result and became household names.
At the time, it seemed like Nirvana was the sole exponent of this new genre – but on closer inspection, it was realized Nirvana was only one part of a movement that got started in the mid-late 80s, but it took Smells Like Teen Spirit to put it (and Seattle) on the map. Soon, record companies and management firms were flocking to the Northwest, waving contracts and turning clubs upside down in search of the next Nirvana.
And much like San Francisco became Mecca for 60s counter-culture, Seattle became Mecca for all things Grunge. It was the place where it all got started; ground zero.
Within months bands were springing up all over the country, taking Nirvana’s lead – the competition in decibels alone was awe inspiring – the 90s were happening in a very big way.
But no sooner did it happen then it suddenly stopped. With news that Kurt Cobain had committed suicide on April 8, 1994, a pall of anger, sadness and depression swept over Ground Zero and Nirvana ceased to exist.
But the legacy continues – and 30 years later, Nevermind is hailed as a milestone album selling some 30 million copies worldwide. As a reminder of that pivotal period, this Amsterdam concert illustrates just how profound and essential Nirvana were.
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