Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Smells like Top Hat spirit

I usually don’t remember anniversaries like this, but I was doing some research on something else last week and copped that it’s 16 years ago today since Nirvana played Dublin’s Top Hat (and 16 years ago yesterday since they tore …

Tue, Aug 21, 2007, 09:27

   

I usually don’t remember anniversaries like this, but I was doing some research on something else last week and copped that it’s 16 years ago today since Nirvana played Dublin’s Top Hat (and 16 years ago yesterday since they tore Sir Henry’s in Cork apart) as support to Sonic Youth.

I remember both shows for an abundance of reasons. The reaction from the people around me in Cork about halfway through “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, the first time most of us probably heard it, as people began to figure out that this song was huge. The way Kurt screamed his way through “Sliver”. All three of the band fast asleep in the Top Hat while Sonic Youth were soundchecking. The sheer translucent power of their Dublin show. The dozen or so punters who left after Nirvana finished – they’d come solely to see them and didn’t bother to wait around for the Youth. Talking to Nirvana’s manager John Silva afterwards as he clutched a guitar which Kurt had smashed. “David Geffen can pay for that now”, he said.

A couple of days later, they played a show-stopper at the Reading Festival and, a couple of months later, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” had become an anthem. It was 1991, the year punk rock broke.

It’s odd to look back now and note just how different things were then. While some would have know about Nirvana via ’89′s “Bleach”, the vast majority of the audience were encountering the band and the songs from “Nevermind” for the first time. In an era before MP3s, music blogs and downloads, finding out about new music was a little different. You had to make more of an effort because you didn’t have the same easy access to a global jukebox. But it could be done.

It’s odd too remembering those Nirvana shows and comparing them to the freak show which was about to take over their world. Back then, there were no celebrities, no Courtney Love, no spokesman-for-a-generation crap surrounding the band. Just three kids making an amazing racket and looking like they were having a hell of a time. Best to remember them that way.

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