Real Nirvana. The Academy. Birmingham. 31st May. 2014.

Real Nirvana do beyond what tribute bands are generally for. Really – they do.

Supporting Metallica ReLoaded at the Birmingham Academy the crowd size is dented slightly by the Froch Vs Groves fight and Supersonic Festival I imagine. The crowd however is a good one and there’s a very positive vibe in the room.

Taking to the stage at 8pm Real Nirvana aren’t really a support band, they generally command headline slots of their own. This double billing works well and in a parallel universe one could imagine the two real bands doing a show together, unlike say Nirvana playing on the same bill as Bon Jovi for example. Both Nirvana and Metallica deserve their place in the 20 million album sales bracket – even if success ultimately destroyed Nirvana?

Rambling aside, back to this gig. Real Nirvana pay a lot of attention to detail. The instruments, clothing, imagery and most importantly the sound is spot-on. Squint your eyes and you’d think it was the genuine article. I suggest this after being fortunate enough to see Nirvana 5 times, from the Sliver era tour to their final U.K. gig.

Launching with Aneurysm (my favourite Nirvana song) it takes less than a minute to get the attention of the whole audience. Fans who’d arguably come to see Metallica ReLoaded are won over pretty much instantly. Two bands that never really crossed paths but I imagine most in attendance own the music of both bands?

Drain You maintains that near authentic sound and people start to move and nod approval. This is followed swiftly by a decent version of Rape Me. The jam of My Sharona bleeds playfully into Breed which in turn deviates into In Bloom. Likewise a tease of More Than A Feeling stutters into the song that snowballed Nirvana in the first place, Smells Like Teen Spirit. With the audience on side Real Nirvana visit Bleach era material with a quality take of About A Girl before returning to the Nevermind sound of On A Plain. 

Heart Shaped Box with its generally heavier sound is greeted with whoops, smiling faces and this disillusioned but accesible sound of the heavier songs from In Utero arguably work best with this more Metal audience.  Francis Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle affirms this hunch maybe?

The final song, rather like the first song – is a belter. Territorial Pissings is a very fitting way to end the set with its chaotic brilliance. A song that in many ways epitomised the real Nirvana is paid huge homage by the Real Nirvana – if that makes sense!

Real Nirvana are hands-down the best tribute band I’ve ever seen, not just from the Nirvana fan in me but the huge attention to detail and spookily fantastic replication. Some musings that came to mind after the gig was Kurt Cobain did look massively affected on stage. One could actually sense a feel of pain, he was massively unpredictable – I guess the Real Nirvana or indeed any tribute band could not replicate this (not a criticism at all). Secondly, Real Nirvana manage to sound so much like the real deal that from a selfish point of view I really imagine they could attempt new material, even if that was a solitary song in the vein of what might have been – that’s a lot to ask but I feel they could pull it off and it’d be another string to their already mighty bow.

Catch ’em live if you can…

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