Watch 5 Full Nirvana Concerts

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Nirvana’s influence on rock music is undeniable, despite their short-lived existence between forming in 1987 and dissolving after the death of frontman Kurt Cobain in April 1994. Over the course of those seven years, the band from Aberdeen, Washington released only three studio albums: their 1989 debut Bleach, its breakout follow-up in 1991 Nevermind and their final LP, 1993’s In Utero.

Another of their recorded output was Nirvana’s mostly acoustic concert for MTV’s Unplugged series, which aired on television in December 1994 and was released as a live album in November 1994, mere months after Cobain’s death by suicide at age 27. The MTV Unplugged in New York record captured an atypical side of Nirvana in concert, in stark contrast to the band’s typically explosively electric sets played in front of adoring and rowdy audiences.

This edition of Full Show Friday goes into the JamBase Live Video Archive (JBLVA) to highlight five full Nirvana concert videos spanning the grunge pioneers’ early-1980s start through one of the final shows Cobain performed publicly before his tragic death. Click here to watch over 150 Nirvana videos in the JBLVA and scroll down for five full show videos featuring the iconic band in concert during their all-too-short career.

January 23, 1988 | Tacoma, Washington

The earliest complete Nirvana performance in the JBLVA is technically not even a “Nirvana” show since the band was calling themselves Ted Ed Fred when the video above was recorded near their hometown in Tacoma, Washington. Cobain, bassist Krist Novoselic and at-the-time drummer Dale Crover played a set consisting of Bleach tracks “Downer,” “Floyd the Barber” and “Paper Cuts” along with other early-era originals such as “Anorexorcist,” “Aero Zeppelin,” “If You Must,” “Hairspray Queen,” “Mexican Seafood” and “Beeswax,” among others.


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Nirvana (See 160 videos)

April 17, 1991 | Seattle

By 1990 Nirvana had settled on a name and drummer as Dave Grohl became the last in a succession of different people to sit behind the kit. This footage was recorded a few miles north of Aberdeen on I-5 in the other city most associated with the band, Seattle. The video is of their concert on April 17, 1991 at the O.K. Hotel. The show featured the live debut of what became their smash hit, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which would come out on Nevermind a few months later. The band also displayed their influences, covering DEVO, The Wipers and Shocking Blue.


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MCRA NIRVANA
Nirvana (See 160 videos)

October 19, 1991 | Dallas

As noted, Nirvana shows were typically rowdy affairs for both band and audience. One such example of how wild things could get was during the group’s October 19, 1991 concert in Dallas. A 2011 article in the Dallas Observer detailed what happened at Trees the night Nirvana played there in 1991:

The tour had been booked to Trees months earlier — well before Nevermind’s release — and Nirvana’s rise had happened so quickly that certain venues just weren’t large enough to accommodate the newfound hordes. Trees happened to be one of those clubs. Somehow, though, the show went on … One of the biggest problems was security. Trees hadn’t been open for very long at that point, and Nirvana’s road manager was angry that there wasn’t a security divide between the stage and the audience.

“They told us that, if we didn’t have a moat, then we had to hire three security guards to keep people off the stage,” [former Trees employee Jeffrey] Liles says.

Enter one Turner Van Blarcum, a union stagehand who was brought in at the last minute to complete the trio of bouncers facing a seemingly impossible task … Van Blarcum refused to comment for this article. But his story has reached mythical heights.

Early into the show, it was clear that keeping the fans off the stage was going to be troublesome. Even with security pushing the crowd back, Cobain began gesturing for fans to get onto the stage. He then stage dived into the crowd, jumping off Van Blarcum’s back, Liles says. As Van Blarcum, among others, tried to pull the singer back onto the stage, Cobain popped the bouncer in the head with his guitar. Van Blarcum then retaliated with a right cross to Cobain’s jaw. After that, all hell broke loose. Van Blarcum tried to explain what happened to whomever would listen as two band members scattered off stage. Almost immediately, the crowd started chanting, “Bullshit.” …

Somehow, the show restarted. But Van Blarcum still had revenge on his mind. He waited out front for Cobain to come out after the show. Liles saw Van Blarcum and called a cab with instructions to meet the band in the back of the venue.

“I pushed the band out the door and into the alley and told the cab driver to get the fuck out of here,” Liles says.

As the cab slowly pulled away, Nirvana’s road manager came out of Trees yelling about the band not knowing what hotel everyone was staying in. When the cab stopped amidst the confusion, Van Blarcum spotted Cobain inside.

“Turner ran up and punched all the glass out of the back of that cab,” Liles says. “The three guys in Nirvana were just sitting there covered in glass. I will never forget that scene.”

Van Blarcum was eventually subdued and Nirvana made it to the right hotel. The band ended up paying Van Blarcum’s medical bills and for damages to the venue.

“Look, I love Nirvana as much as anyone,” Liles says. “But, on that night, [Cobain] was a douche.”

Douche or not, Cobain and his antics still resonate with those lucky enough to honestly claim they were in attendance.

Watch the wild scene unfold above during “Love Buzz.”


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Alt Copperpot5 (See 45 videos)
Nirvana (See 160 videos)

December 31, 1993 | Oakland

Nirvana recorded their Unplugged appearance in New York in November 1993. They were back on their native West Coast that December, ringing in the new year with a concert in Oakland, California. The encore that night at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena reflected the recent Unplugged session with acoustic versions of The Vaselines’ “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam” and Lead Belly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?,” before “plugging back in” for David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World,” followed by “All Apologies,” “Scentless Apprentice,” “Heart-Shaped Box” and “Blew.”


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Alt Copperpot5 (See 45 videos)
Nirvana (See 160 videos)

February 25, 1994 | Milan, Italy

Nirvana’s final tour took place in Europe in February 1994, culminating with what became Cobain and the band’s last concert on March 1 in Munich, Germany. Prior to that final performance, Nirvana held concerts in Ljubljana, Slovenia as well as two shows in Milan, Italy. The second show at PalaTrussard in Milan saw Cobain, Novoselic, Grohl and touring guitarist Pat Smear present a setlist that pulled equally from In Utero and Nevermind while dropping in some Bleach-era early gems. That concert, one of Cobain’s final public performances, can be viewed in its entirety above.


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Alt Copperpot5 (See 45 videos)
Nirvana (See 160 videos)
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