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Capturing the Moment
Live at Reading (Universal)
By Hunter Embry
Nirvana needs no introduction. With their sophomore effort, Nevermind, the band changed what could be expected from popular music. Nirvana's mix of post-punk, metal and 1960s pop hooks spearheaded a generation and changed music forever. Nirvana's August 30, 1992, performance at the Reading Festival is probably the best representation of the band, both sonically and visually.
Live at Reading (Universal) captures Nirvana at its peak – smack dab in the middle of the insanity of being the biggest band in the world. The 24-song set begins with screeching feedback, before the three-piece aggressively rolls into "Breed." Dave Grohl and Kris Novoselic provide a backbone for Cobain's frantically energetic guitar and groaning vocals.
Nirvana beautifully mixes unpolished rage and catchy melodies that prove to be penetrable to even the most sensitive ears. Cobain's occasional missed notes and sarcastic vocal mishaps only add to the character of the songs. One can't help but feel trapped in the energy of the recording. No matter how much his vocal chords seem to be shredding themselves, Cobain keeps his rich tonal quality throughout the set.
The band kicks through the set, leaving little breathing room. Unlike many popular recordings of the past, where a band seems to connect on a few songs, while lagging in others, Live at Reading captures a Nirvana at its essence – uncorrupted, unpolished and relentless. It's pure and raw, just as one would expect.