Last Saturday marked 20 years since Kurt Cobain’s death at his home in Seattle and, I think it’s fairly safe to say, that he has cast a long shadow over the music world since the early 1990s. With that in mind local drummer James Le Huray had an idea sometime last summer to hold a “grunge night” and this has now come to fruition.
Before the band took to the stage James admitted a certain nervousness on two levels, first was the usual for anyone playing a gig, but second was whether the show would work as a celebration and whether there would be an appetite for celebrating a bunch of songs more than 20 years old.
Well, as the band took to the stage, following a great set from DJ Vauvert Underground – taking in grunge and whole lot else besides (it’s always a nice surprise to hear Cheap Trick and Danzig through a loud PA) – The Fermain Tavern already had a nice crowd growing and it seemed James had nothing to worry about.
Nirvazon (as they were calling themselves), comprised James (more often seen with Tonight The Skies) on drums, along with SugarSlam’s Plumb on guitar and vocals, Tantale’s Matt Smart on bass and Twelve Tribe Mansion’s Tom Bradshaw on lead guitar, and across two sets they blasted through 29 Nirvana songs spanning the bands entire career from early demos to the posthumously released You Know You’re Right and the crowd lapped up every note.
As it was their first (and only) gig together it wasn’t surprising that it took Nirvazon a few songs to hit their stride, but as they headed into Heart Shaped Box it all seemed to fall into place. From that point on every one of the ‘hits’ had the audience singing along, with Plumb at times just leaving the crowd to sing, while even the more obscure album tracks were greeted with a big reaction.
Ending their first set with Sappy and Tourette’s left the audience certainly wanting more and they were far from disappointed as 15 minutes or so later the band were back on stage with School, In Bloom and Sliver kicking off the second session.
Again it took a couple of songs to get properly going but soon the dancefloor at the Tav was packed and moving and as the set went on it began to resemble the crowds seen in videos of Nirvana’s own gigs, which was a relief following a few moments of ‘dad dancing’ that I’d witnessed earlier in the night.
Across both sets Nirvazon put in a great performance and, while there were a few minor slip ups, for a band making their first live outing it was very impressive and showed a side, particularly of James and Tom’s playing that, hasn’t been seen in a long time, if at all before.
With You Know You’re Right and Aneurysm ending the set it wasn’t long before the band were back launching into Breed to start their encore, followed by (inevitably) Smells Like Teen Spirit at which point the already energetic audience erupted and even crowd surfing was witnessed – is that a first for the Tav?
While commemorating the death of an icon such as Cobain could fall into the realms of the morbid if handled wrong, and I think James was right to be concerned, what tonight became, for the most part, was a celebration of the music. It was clear to see from this that while Kurt’s songs had an effect on people who ‘were there’ in the early 1990s, that effect is still being felt today and, while Kurt may have become the icon, the music of the likes of Pixies, Sonic Youth, Soundgarden and Mudhoney (amongst others) still has a lot to say.
The review was also published in The Guernsey Press on Saturday 12th April 2014 (not my photo of Kurt):