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The 40 greatest concerts in Boston history: 2

Nirvana + Smashing Pumpkins + Bullet LaVolta | Axis | September 23, 1991
By PHOENIX STAFF  |  October 25, 2006


Nirvana live at Axis (YouTube)

SOMETIME AROUND 1991: Nirvana, live, that night, sold out
The next day, Nevermind (Geffen) would hit stores, so Nirvana were the underdogs on this bill celebrating WFNX’s birthday on Lansdowne Street. When they went on, the audience and the band ignited. The big-time production values of Nevermind were stripped away to reveal the raw, bleeding bones of Kurt Cobain’s songs. People were flying through the air. Every 15 or 20 seconds another body would be propelled over the crowd’s heads as if squeezed from a tube, be caught, and then slip back safely into the masses. There were too many people for anyone to fall straight to the floor. And it wasn’t only the audience. From the first chord Cobain was like a super ball — he seemed to ricochet off the floor into the air, off the audience back to the stage, off his amp to the front, and back again. His feet hardly touched the ground. Yet somehow every song came through with teeth-gritting perfection.

Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan was also a commanding presence. The Pumpkins played so loud their set had a hurricane-like force. But there was a deep emotional resonance embedded in that wall of sound — an annex of what Jimi Hendrix called “the electric church.” The headliners were local outfit Bullet LaVolta, one of the greatest Boston bands of the ’80s. RCA released two of their albums that year, and they seemed poised to be, well, maybe what Nirvana became. Leader Yukki Gipe lived up to the first part of the band’s name at Axis, firing off the stage into the fans at the blisteringly hard, fast, loud set began. Even if LaVolta’s raw blend of hardcore and pop eventually couldn’t compete in the hookier world of alt-rock grunge, that night anything seemed possible.
40 39 38 37 36 35 34 33 32 31 30 29 28 27 26
25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
<< The Rolling StonesJames Brown >>

Were you there? Wish you were? Seen better? Tell us about it below.
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  Topics: Live Reviews , Kurt Cobain , Nirvana (Musical Group) , Bullet LaVolta ,  More more >
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The 40 greatest concerts in Boston history: 2
Hmm...the omission of U2 at the Boston Garden on St Patty's Day '92, the Grateful Dead's '69 Ark and '91 Garden shows, Neil Young's 1970 Boston Tea Party gigs and his late 90's shows w/Crazy Horse, a variety of shows at Paul's Mall (Bob Marley, Aerosmith, Muddy Waters, BB King, etc), The Cars at the Paradise in '78, The Police at the Rat in '78, any number of HORDE shows at Great Woods, The Allman Brothers Band at Great Woods in '92 and a frisky doublebill of Ozzy with Metallica opening back in maybe '86 at the Worcester Centrum have me shaking my head and wondering why they didn't make the cut...but these top-<insert number here> lists are all subjective, anyhow, so this is all just peein' in the wind...
By cmpopp on 10/26/2006 at 8:35:32
The 40 greatest concerts in Boston history: 2
This one will always make me cringe. Shoulda been there.
By John Farrell on 10/26/2006 at 10:21:14
The 40 greatest concerts in Boston history: 2
Hmmm, a list where two of the Top Five concerts were sponsored by the media company who publishes this paper? Sure thing, Mr. Mindich. . . I can't believe the Fall 91 concert with Nirvana, Pearl Jam and the Chili Peppers on one bill at BU of all places, didn't make this list.
By Mrs. Peel on 11/04/2006 at 9:52:16
The 40 greatest concerts in Boston history: 2
Dan has this almost dead on except it should have been #1 not #2. "I've been lucky enough to see ten of the forty concerts on your list of the "Greatest Rock Shows in Boston History." I'll give you James Brown at #1, for its historical significance if nothing else, even though it wasn't one of them. And I agree with ranking the Stones at the Garden in '72 at #3 because I did see that. But I also saw the Jimi Hendrix Experience perform at the Carousel Theater in Framingham on August 25, 1968. It was easily the greatest and most magical rock show I've ever seen. In my opinion, you made a big mistake in not ranking it #2 - not to mention by completely omitting it from your list. -Dan Currie, Boston" The Experience did two shows that night and they were on fire. It was Hendrix and the boys at the top of their game and the venue was perfect. A round tent, no echos and intimate. Guess you boys and girls at the Phoenix are just too young to remember Jimi :)
By Earwin on 12/20/2006 at 9:12:28

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