For the encore of their final Los Angeles concert, the members of Nirvana clamored onstage with acoustic instruments for a brief set of songs they’d played a little over a month earlier at their Unplugged taping. In recently surfaced footage of the gig – which took place on December 30th, 1993 at the Forum in Inglewood, California – Kurt Cobain and Pat Smear arrive onstage with acoustic guitars, while Krist Novoselic straps on an accordion and Dave Grohl handles the bass, and Lori Goldston sets up on cello. After noodling around on a few notes of “We Must Bleed,” a track by Smear’s early punk group the Germs, the group played a set consisting of covers of the Vaselines’ “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam,” David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World” and “All Apologies.”
Most poignant among them is the Vaselines cover, which Cobain dedicated to River Phoenix. “Don’t expect me to cry for all the reasons you had to die,” he sang, just two months after the actor’s fatal overdose of heroin and cocaine.
Novoselic and Grohl returned to their original instruments, and Cobain and Smear picked up electric instruments, for “The Man Who Sold the World,” which Cobain introduced as “a song by David Boo-wie.” The bassist bounced along to the verse, glancing back occasionally to make sure he didn’t topple Goldston. Meanwhile, Cobain charged the front of the stage and even did a little jig with his guitar as a couple of concertgoers crowdsurfed up to the front. After a break, the bassist introduced “All Apologies” as a “rock & roll jam,” with Cobain stepping up to his spot next to a giant fan for the song. The video ends with a snippet of the Nevermind track “On a Plain.”
Although it isn’t captured in this video, according to Nirvana Live Guide, Cobain ended the set by using one of the prop angels’ arms to play his guitar and using a drill on his guitar, while Novoselic sang “You Really Got Me.” A Setlist.FM post says the group played 23 songs in total that night and ended the show with the 1989 song “Blew.”
The man who posted the video, Dave Markey, also directed the documentary 1991: The Year Punk Broke, which featured Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Mudhoney and other bands. “I’m glad to have documented this show,” he said of the Forum show, “as well as their pre-fame fun in 1991.”
This year Nirvana will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, alongside Kiss, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, Cat Stevens and Linda Ronstadt. In April, the town of Hoquiam, Washington, where Cobain lived briefly, will be celebrating “Nirvana Day.”