Paul McCartney made rock history on Friday night when he brought out Nirvana‘s surviving members during the encore of his show at Seattle’s Safeco Field. It was only the second time that drummer Dave Grohl and bassist Krist Novoselic (plus touring guitarist Pat Smear) have performed together in Nirvana’s hometown since Kurt Cobain’s death in 1994, and the first time they’ve played there in more than 15 years.
“We hatched that plan a couple of weeks ago,” McCartney tells Rolling Stone. “Dave was going to come up to Seattle with his family, and I said to him, ‘Do you think there’s any chance the guys would fancy [a reunion]?’ He said, ‘Well, let me ask.’ And they fancied it. So we thought, ‘Let’s go and flip ’em out.'”
The Nirvana bandmates backed McCartney on “Cut Me Some Slack” – the original song they recorded for Grohl’s Sound City documentary last year – as well as joining McCartney’s band on a handful of Beatles classics, including “Get Back,” Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally,” “Helter Skelter” and “The End.”
McCartney says they didn’t need to rehearse for the big moment, aside from a quick test run during Friday afternoon’s soundcheck. “When you’re playing with guys like that, you realize that they’ve been to the heights of fame, so they’re used to it – they’re not gonna freak,” he says. “And they’re hell of musicians, so we learned everything really quickly. That’s what’s great about playing with guys like that.”
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For the more than 45,000 fans at the stadium that night, the encore surprise made a great show even more memorable. “They’re powerful, you know,” adds McCartney. “It’s a great power to have them on stage with you. I mean, my band’s great – but when you augment it with Nirvana, that’s greater.”