Nirvana: Live! Tonight! Sold Out!!
R1 - America - Universal Music
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (3rd December 2006).
The Film

Ever since I was a teenager I have been a fan of Nirvana, after all they hit it big around the time that music was shaping my teenage years and their music struck a chord with me. I started backwards with their 1993 album "In Utero" which was given to me as a gift on cassette tape by a close friend. I played that tape over and over in my walkman until the tape itself started to wear down. It was the first pre-recorded tape that I had owned, and it was of a band that grew to appreciate. I completed my collection of Nirvana albums in the spring of 1994 with their first studio release "Bleach" followed by "Nevermind" and "Insecticide" an album of b-sides and rarities. It was also at that time that front man for the group Kurt Cobain would take his life and put a end of Nirvana forever.
I arrived home after school around 3.30pm on April 8, 1994. I remember this day vividly, I did what I always did after school, I made myself a snack (peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk) and turned on the tube to MTV, as I was watching the programing MTV news started up with a breaking news bulletin that Cobain's body was found in his Seattle home with a self inflicted gunshot wound, the body had laid there for 3 days (April 5, 1994 was the official date of death). This news came as a total shock to me, how could this happen? I immediately called my friend (the same one who gave me "In Utero") and broke the news, neither of us chose to believe it...but it was true. It would also appear as though millions of fans around the world couldn't believe it either.
Cobain's death affected me personally, Nirvana was the first band that I developed a serious musical appreciation for, I wouldn't say I was obsessive like many fans (some would pilgrimage to Cobain's home after his death, I also recall a news story of one fan killing himself), I still consider myself a fan and occasionally put on a Nirvana album whenever I'm feeling nostalgic, it brings me back to my teenage years and the summers spent with my friends singing along and pretending to be indie rockers. I'm glad that I can revisit that time with any number of Nirvana DVDs as well, "Live! Tonight! Sold Out!!" covers the bands world tour from 1991-1992 during the height of their popularity. The footage presented here is like a time capsule of the energy and attitude of that time in rock and roll history. The grunge era that gave birth to bands from Seattle such as Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains among others, and the spirit of grunge is well represented here in this concert DVD. Featured in these performances are some classic early Nirvana tunes from a tour that took them all over the world including dates in Seattle, Sao Paulo, Dallas, London, Honolulu, Amsterdam, Tokyo , Reading and Roskilde, Denmark.
The concert footage also includes rare footage from the tour and candid moments from the band, it's somewhat haunting to see this footage of the band on stage knowing how Cobain felt about the admiration of the fans from his suicide letter, regardless "Live Tonight! Sold Out!!" is a wonderful chronicle of a year in the life of one of the biggest rock acts of that time and is something that fans will certainly be happy about knowing this title has finally been released on DVD, so you can finally ditch your worn out VHS copy or that Laserdisc edition you've been holding onto for the last several years.

This concert DVD include performances of the following songs:

"Aneurysm"
"About A Girl"
"Dive"
"Love Buzz"
"Breed"
"Smells Like Teen Spirit"
"Negative Creep"
"Come As You Are"
"Territorial Pissings"
"Something In The Way"
"Lithium"
"Drain You"
"Polly"
"Sliver"
"On A Plain"
"Endless Nameless

Video

Presented in 1.33:1 full screen this transfer has been digitally remastered and color-corrected for this DVD release, the result is a mixed bag. The footage featured on this DVD was shot on different formats and as a result vary in quality from sharp and clear to murky, grainy and downright awful. I suppose this adds to the grunge element of the musical content and what the band stood for, but I doubt that the grainy footage was shot like that on purpose to evoke a sense of grunge, but is that way because of the resources available to the camera crew at the time. Color also ranges from balanced to occasionally bleeding in certain shots, blacks aren't bold and are most of the time muddy. Although this transfer isn't spectacular by any means it chronicles a time and place in Nirvana history and even if it was recorded on the worst elements known to man, die hard fans would still watch it.

Audio

Two audio tracks are included, a newly mixed English Dolby Digital 5.1 as well as the original English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track. For the purpose of this review I chose to view the film with its 5.1 surround track and much like the visuals I found the audio to be a mixed bag as well. One thing to keep in mind is that just because something has been digitally remastered doesn't necessarily mean that it has been restored. The audio ranges from loud and distorted to sounding far away yet clear. The audio recorded for this footage depends heavily on the circumstances, the quality of the gear and the distance from the performer (at times). Aside from occasionally having to re-adjust my volume the sound captures the performances and there isn't anything too distracting about the 5.1 mix other than the fact that it could have been recorded much better.
This DVD does not feature any optional subtitles.

Extras

Universal Music and Geffen Records have released this concert DVD with additional performances as well as a " personal play list" interactive feature as bonus features on this disc, below is a closer look at these supplements.

Included as extras on this disc are additional performances Live In Amsterdam which runs for 13 minutes 45 seconds and includes performances of the following songs:

"School"
"About A Girl"
"Been A Son"
"On A Plain"
"Blew"

Also included on this disc is a "Personal Play list" interactive feature which allows the viewer to arrange the songs in whatever order you'd like to watch them in.

Packaging

For fans of Nirvana this is a must, even though the video and audio isn't amazing and that there are only a few extras on this disc. It would have been great had the surviving members of the band the director come together for a retrospective audio commentary but alas this was not possible.

Overall

The Film: B+ Video: C Audio: C Extras: C- Overall: C+

 


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