Nirvana has been credited with awakening a dormant rock ‘n’ roll market and inspiring a new subculture, fashion and musical category, grunge. But the band was not quite so inspiring this night at the Forum.
The concert supported Nirvana’s most recent Geffen release, “In Utero,” and benefited Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a non-profit media watch organization. The cause wasn’t mentioned by the band at all, however, and information booths were hard to locate.
Although the band played and sang with precision and displayed adeptness, vitality was lacking. The temperature never really left lukewarm.
The band’s innovative songs, which have introduced nontraditional melodies and arrangements, were performed basically as replications of their records, seemingly defeating most reasons for attending a concert. Scattered throughout the set, hit songs “Smells Like Teen Spirit,””Come as You Are” and “Heart-Shaped Box” dragged either in tempo or energy and were generally anticlimactic.
Nirvana embraces simplicity in their music, performance and staging. The lack of flash was appealing, but the short length of songs was cause for a short event. The band played more than 20 songs but didn’t fill two hours.
Kurt Cobain’s mobility was restricted by his dual role as singer and guitarist, but when available, he displayed his angst and anger, flailing himself about the floor like a child throwing a very effective temper tantrum. At the end, he and bass guitarist Chris Novoselic smashed their guitars into the props, floor and amps.
Audience interaction was minimal. Stage design was stripped down to two “In Utero” mascot angels, surreal trees and red flowers scattered about the stage. Lighting was limited to a few strobes, scatter lights and very basic use of colored flood lights.
The evening also featured Butthole Surfers, who were reviewed earlier this year, and emcee/comedian Bobcat Goldthwait.