MTV Unplugged in NY – Nirvana

So, Nirvana were massive. They were huge and considered a great influence over the 90s. But then he died and I heard The Pixies and suddenly I wasn’t that bothered by them.

I really liked the Seattle sound of the early 90s and I saw Alice In Chains a few times. The soundtrack to the film Singles is a super album. Nevermind was amazing and had a raw power that was a complete turn around from the thrash and metal that had come before. But, I’m afraid that one good song on a pretty good album doesn’t heroes make [in my view].

I look back quite dispassionately from the lofty heights of 2019. I can see what they did but I can be almost unbothered by it all.

I bought this album, I played it but for me I think it lacked the power of Nevermind. The vocals have a haunting sound and this was the first of the Unplugged albums that made MTV a fortune. I can’t remember the last time I played this album. I can’t see a time when I will play this album.

Nirvana does make me remember my third year at university. You see you have to read this boring, lofty communication to get this far before you get a nugget of glory days waffle. Back in the day we held “welcome” dinners for each of the engineering departments and we asked freshers to come along. I attended all of these in my third year as I was in the “Departmental Societies Officer” role within City and Guilds College Union. I t was pretty much my duty to go along and drink and be merry.

The disco at the dinners was run by the people from Imperial College Radio, a group to which I also belonged having been part of the organisation since my own first year at university. There are stories about time at the radio station that I should record on this site. So, ICR ran the discos and kept pointing out that I knew all the words to the Wham! songs, which was slightly embarrassing but at least it meant I got the chance to influence the choice of songs.

When “Smells Like Teen Spirit” came on I would run to the dance floor and then begin to be a little aggressive with the metal style “dancing” I guess. There was one dinner where, at the end of the song, I was the last man standing on the dance floor. Everyone else had decided it was best to get away from me. I look back and think my behaviour could have been considered anti-social but I also recognise that times were different and people probably cared less then that I do now.

Being in the pit at a metal show is an act of consensual violence to a certain extent. Everyone there wants to have a good time and jump around and bounce into each other. However, at the same time everyone looks out for each other and if someone falls we all help them up. I’ve helped up people I’ve been running into and I’ve also been helped up when I’ve fallen. There are levels of behaviour that are considered OK and there are definitely upper limits. It’s all unspoken but works. If you don’t like the level of violence then you leave and no one cares. I’ve left pits in the past, where I’ve considered the violence beyond my limits and I’ve stood on the edge and watched.

Most concerts I’ve been to just involve the crowd jumping around and maybe creating a circle. I’ve been to gigs where we’ve run into each other in time to the music and in the right environment that’s pretty good fun. I’ve been to gigs where the pit seemed to consist of a few people rugby tackling each other and I thought that a stage too far and so I left that one. In that same pit I saw someone throw a punch, this was beyond the unwritten rules and that chap was dragged out and handed over to security. There are rules you see, you just have to know what’s going on.

When I think of the pits I’ve been in, there has been the following bands where I’ve been controlled by the music:

  • Iron Maiden
  • AC/DC
  • Combichrist
  • Newsted
  • Aesthetic Perfection
  • The Prodigy
  • Megadeth