On Saturday night, HBO aired the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony that occurred in April. The event took place in Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where Nirvana was a first ballot inductee. After Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic accepted the award, along with Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain's mother Wendy Elizabeth, the band took the stage and performed "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "Aneurysm," "Lithium," and "All Apologies" with special guests to fill in for the late Cobain. Watch the entire video above.
When it was announced that Nirvana would be inducted this year, there was question to whether or not original drummer Chad Channing would be inducted as well. He wasn't. Not only was Channing their drummer on Nirvana's debut Bleach, but also recorded "In Bloom" on their breakthrough album, Nevermind. As soon as Grohl took the stage to accept the award, he made it clear that he was not the band's first drummer, but their fifth. He thanked them all, and even explained Channing's contribution to "In Bloom." It was a moment of humility, and showed how much bigger Nirvana is than just three people. Channing, along with drummers Aaron Burckhard, Dale Crover, Dan Peters, guitarists Jason Everman and Pat Smear, as well as contributions from producers Steve Albini and Butch Vig are responsible for helping shape the band's sound and changing music forever.
In a video retrospect of the band, Cobain described his experience in Nirvana by stating, "It was like The Beatles, you know? It's like Nirvanamania." In many ways, Nirvana became just as sacred as The Beatles did before them, and that means that covering Cobain's music is a hard feat. That's why it is so refreshing to hear these songs live again, but done right. In a smart move, Grohl and Novoselic decided to play their music with female singers. First up is the legendary Joan Jett playing Nirvana's biggest hit, "Smells Like Teen Spirit." The opening chords of the song were a bit unsettling to hear. Once the drums and bass kick in, that feeling goes away. This is Nirvana playing, not a cover. Grohl and Novoselic have a chemistry that makes this performance sound so natural, with Smear sounding better than ever playing Cobain's signature guitar solo. Since Smear was a touring guitarist for Nirvana since 1993, he is the only guitarist able to produce that distorted watery sound.
For the next performance, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth came out to play "Aneurysm," a single that was released on the Insecticide EP. Gordon has Nirvana credibility, since Sonic Youth and Nirvana were tour-mates and personal friends. As a singer, she's always had a limited range. However, her energy and attitude made Sonic Youth tracks such as "Across The Breeze" and "The Sprawl" some of the band's best songs. Her performance with Nirvana is no exception. Gordon trades melody in exchange for screaming, giving "Aneurysm" raw, punk rock energy. Watching Gordon on the ground, shrieking in the microphone makes it hard to remember Peter Gabriel's performance of the slow-jam "In Your Eyes" from earlier that night.
Annie Clark of St. Vincent came out to perform "Lithium." Unlike Jett or Gordon, Clark's voice is smooth. She soars on the "Yeah-yeah-yeah" chorus. Clark's voice doesn't have the punch that Cobain's had, but hearing a beautiful female voice sing, "I'm so ugly / But that's okay 'cause so are you / We broke our mirrors," gives the song a unique perspective.
Finally, Lorde was invited on stage to perform the In Utero closer, "All Apologies." Jett, Gordon and Clark stayed on stage playing guitar as Novoselic played the accordion. Lorde instantly jumps into her now signature bizarre way of dancing. Cobain's song-writing often touched upon the theme of alienation, and Lorde's song execution would have made Cobain proud.
For more, head over to Nirvana's Zumic artist page.