Resin and Weak 13 warm up for Real Nirvana at The Roadhouse, Stirchley, Birmingham. A venue with great promise since a recent revamp. The support acts are polar opposites of each other but both engaging and interesting, from quality musicianship to the outrageous.
Real Nirvana take to the stage at 10pm and are introduced as “one of the best tribute acts in the U.K. today” – I’m not going to disagree with that. The four piece incorporate the ‘Pat Smear’ guitarist too and offer a hugely authentic sound. In attendance with 7 or 8 of my mates who collectively would have seen Nirvana almost 20 times what how would Real Nirvana fare?
Tonight they play 20 songs, which at a fiver in is value for money and more. Aneurysm starts the set and is arguably my favourite Nirvana track of all-time. The thing about this tribute act is they touch on the Nirvana gems one may have almost forgotten about.
Drain You, Breed and Rape Me follow. Whilst I’ve never been a huge fan of the latter track due to misinterpretation of the few tonight it sounds fabulous, the song is essentially Smells Like Teen Spirit tore apart and highlighting Nirvana’s real disdain for the industry on what would be their final studio album proper.
An electric version of The Man Who Sold The World is well delivered and a welcome variation of the better known Unplugged track. Pennyroyal Tea is outstanding before the band perform two of Nevermind(s) best known songs; Come As You Are and Lithium.
About A Girl and Dumb offer softer sounds but non the weaker for it. Similarly School and Serve The Servants showcase the heavier Nirvana edge from Bleach and In Utero respectively. Smells Like Teen Spirit is popular – because it always will be – but is bettered tonight by takes on Love Buzz and You Know You’re Right, the latter of which is for me in that near hidden gem category.
Heart Shaped Box is quite majestic and as enjoyable as Real Nirvana are one thinks back to what an outstanding band (the real) Nirvana were. Yes they got huge but generationally at least I don’t think we’ll see their like again.
On A Plain soothes then All Apologies ventures into rare territory for this excellent tribute band. Real Nirvana have been painstaking accurate in the 3 gigs of theirs I have seen / heard. Here, All Apologies allows itself to deviate quite naturally, it shows shambolic harmony and clatters like The Pixies at times. Broken strings stop nothing and the chaotic approach resonates. Stain closes the set with noise and style.
The verdict, well that’s up to you really. If you were a fan of Nirvana this act can transport one back in time with ease. There’s small doses of humour and a lot of good will and intention. As far as tribute acts go you’ll struggle to find better…