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Nirvana: Live at the Paramount(1991)
This special performance was recorded in the band's hometown of Seattle on 31st October 1991, capturing Nirvana in the early stages. Transferred from 16mm film and multi-track audio, the only known Nirvana concert shot to film, this is the first time the legendary gig has been available in it's entirety.
For more about Nirvana: Live at the Paramount and the Nirvana: Live at the Paramount Blu-ray release, see the Nirvana: Live at the Paramount Blu-ray Review
Starring: Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl
Director: Mark Racco
» See full cast & crew
Nirvana: Live at the Paramount Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, October 13, 2011
Live at the Paramount captures the influential alternative rockers during their stop at Seattle's Paramount Theater on October 31, 1991. On that memorable night, Nirvana performed a total of 19 songs, amongst them many of their greatest hits, including "Smells Like Teen Spirit", "About A Girl", "Lithium", and "Rape Me".
Live at the Paramount is undoubtedly Nirvana at their best – raw, energetic, angry, and still untouched by fame. The band does not appear detached from the crowd but it is clearly fixated on their music, at times looking completely unaware that they are being watched. Only Krists' occasional jokes and Kurt's casual but edgy announcements ("This song is about hairy, sweaty, macho, redneck men who rape"), as well as a few inspired stage dancers, spoil the magic.
Shot on 16mm film stock, Live at the Paramount looks rough and gritty – as it should. The camera movement is erratic and jumpy, the quick zooms almost nauseating. A few of the tech guys are often seen running up and down the stage, while the rest are looking straight at Kurt, mesmerized by his singing, understanding that something special is happening.
Technically, each song is perfect. In fact, a few sound far better live ("School" and "Lithium"). The vocals are intense but free of pressure, while the solos are about as crisp as they could be. The crowd noise is only felt during the short breaks between each song.
The stage is small and very simple. Behind Dave there is a large white screen with plenty of equipment on both ends of it. More equipment is seen on both sides of the stage, with various people standing around and enjoying the show. A couple of projectors occasionally follow Kurt and Krists, but are often overwhelmed by bright red lights covering the white screen behind Dave.
Note: Live at the Paramount is the only known Nirvana concert shot to film. For the Blu-ray release, Geffen Records sourced the concert from the 16mm film and multi-track audio. The original film was directed by Mark Racco and produced by John Linson. The original concert audio was produced and engineered by Andy Wallace. The restoration and editing of the original film elements was done by Lance Bangs and Kristina Davies (assistant editor).
1. Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam
3. Drain You
5. Floyd The Barber
6. Smells Like Teen Spirit
7. About A Girl
11. Love Buzz
13. Been A Son
14. Negative Creep
15. On A Plain
17. Rape Me
18. Territorial Pissings
19. Endless, Nameless
Nirvana: Live at the Paramount Blu-ray, Video Quality
Live at the Paramount can be viewed either in Full Screen (1.37:1) or Anamorphic Widescreen. We have included screencaptures from both versions of the show in our review.
Sourced from the 16mm film negative and restored, Live at the Paramount looks very good. The image is thick and quite raw, boasting pleasing contrast and clarity as well as very strong colors. The close-ups in particular look excellent (see screencapture #19). The camera movement is erratic and jumpy but actually most appropriate for a show this rough and gritty. The heavy grain present throughout the entire film also adds to the overall quite intense atmosphere. For the record, I did not see any strictly transfer-related anomalies to report in this review. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location).
Nirvana: Live at the Paramount Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are three audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, LPCM 5.1 and LPCM 2.0. For the record, there are no optional subtitles of any sort.
Bad news: There are multiple sync issues on this release that are present on all three tracks. For example, they are very obvious if one keeps a close eye on Dave during "Aneurysm". The music and video are out of sync for a good portion of the song, with Dave appearing approximately 1/3 of a second off. The sync issues are also easy to spot on "Floyd the Barber" - Dave's first entry is once again off.
What makes things quite confusing, however, is the fact that the sync issues, and especially those from the first half of the show, appear during close-ups from one specific camera, and even in songs such as Aneurysm not everything is out of sync. Elsewhere, songs such as "Polly" and "Negative Creep" have close-ups that are perfectly fine. There are also entire songs where there are no sync issues at all ("Territorial Pissings").
I am not entirely sure what might have gone wrong with this release, and I don't feel comfortable speculating because the synch issues are indeed very strange. What is clear is that they do not affect the entire film and, with a few exceptions, appear to be limited only during close-ups from one specific camera. During selected songs, however, even the footage from that camera appears to be fine. To sum it all up, currently I only have a few generic guesses as to what might have caused the sync issues. I am willing to accept that a few extremely small audio misplacements are likely to be present on the master that was created from the 16mm elements, but not the type of obvious sync issues that appear during Aneurysm. Naturally, at this point I would recommend that you do not purchase the disc and wait for some sort of a clarification from the disc's producers and Geffen Records/Universal Music. If you already have, make sure you keep your receipt in case an exchange program that requires one is introduced in a near future.
Nirvana: Live at the Paramount Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Unfortunately, there are no supplemental features to be found on this Blu-ray disc.
Nirvana: Live at the Paramount Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you are interested in adding Nirvana: Live at the Paramount to your collections, I strongly recommend that you do not yet purchase any of the discs that are currently in the retail system. As noted in the audio section of our review, there appear to be multiple sync issues on all three audio tracks. I don't know if the issue is limited to specific discs, but I believe that the best thing to do at the moment is wait for some sort of an official clarification from Geffen Records/Universal Music. SKIP IT.
Nirvana: Live at the Paramount Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Nirvana: Live at the Paramount Blu-ray - September 20, 2011
In an early retail announcement, Geffen Records has indicated plans to bring Nirvana: Live at the Paramount to Blu-ray. The only known Nirvana concert shot on film, Live at the Paramount finds the band showcasing such hits as "Lithium," "Smells Like Teen Spirit," ...
Nirvana: Live at the Paramount Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
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