Live at Reading (CD + DVD)
People of a certain age that are into any kind of “alternative rock” music are fairly likely to have, at the very least, fond memories of Nirvana.
A generation earlier remember exactly where they were when they found out JFK was shot - I remember the precise moment I found out Kurt Cobain had killed himself, and I bet I’m not the only one. Until now, there’s never really been an (official) live recording that really documented Nirvana’s live presence. Until now.
Live at Reading is easily good enough to sit alongside Unplugged in New York in a shortlist of CDs that everyone really ought to own. Personally, I’d choose those two live recordings over any of the studio albums - I think the raw, live sound suits the nature of the songs much better, and the multitrack recordings have been mixed extremely well - it doesn’t sound like a bootleg! The addition of crowd noise in places helps greatly with the atmosphere too.
And that’s before you even look at the DVD. In all honesty, I prefer the CD to the DVD - the footage is good, but I find it hard to maintain interest in a live performance on screen, especially one as long as this. In fact if it were my money I’d probably just buy the CD, were it not for the annoying fact that one song (Love Buzz) only appears on the DVD. Cheeky.
But to be honest, that’s my feeling on live DVDs in general and no reflection on the quality of this one, which is extremely high. The tracklist perfectly encapsulates the earlier portion of Nirvana’s existence, containing pretty much all of Nevermind, as well as a few early tracks from Bleach and a selection from (at this point yet to be released) Incesticide and In Utero. The perfect complement to the later Live in New York!
If you hate Nirvana... This probably won’t convert you. If you look back upon them as a turning point in your musical growth, and you’re really gutted that you never got to see them live (I was 12 when they played this show) then this collection is very much a worthy addition to your library.