Review of "Live! Tonight! Sold Out!!" DVD

Had someone asked me a while ago what the Nirvana camp should first release on DVD, Live! Tonight! Sold Out!! would be near the bottom of my wish list.

Nevertheless, a reissue of the 1994 VHS was released worldwide earlier this week - the first official stand-alone Nirvana DVD to come out. The main difference from the original VHS is the fact that the footage has been color-corrected and digitally remastered in 5.1 surround sound (2-channel stereo is also available). The DVD does not offer subtitles, as most other DVDs do.

The new transfer is clearly better quality than the old VHS, but not a significant upgrade considering that much of the footage was poor quality to begin with (in some cases because inferior sources were used when the footage was originally compiled). Some fans even report that the camcorder footage, for one, looks more granier on the DVD compared to the old VHS.

The sound, while slightly overdriven, is also better than the VHS and, as mentioned, now available in surround sound. Especially the professionally shot concert footage sounds really good on this DVD.

The artwork is essentially the same as the artwork that came with the VHS. The DVD doesn't come with a booklet but simply a double-sided thin glossy paper, complete with the same factual errors concerning the dates of certain performances as the booklet for the VHS did ("About a Girl", "Polly", "Endless, Nameless", "Noise" (part of) and "Breed" were recorded in 1991, not 1992, "Something in the way" was recorded in 1992 and not 1991. The extras are also mislabeled as being recorded in 1992 instead of 1991).

The extras included with the DVD - five songs from Nirvana's 1991 show in Amsterdam - reflect the fact that this is not an 'original' release, but merely a quick and dirty VHS to DVD transfer. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find a more uninteresting choice for the extras. For starters, the main program that you've spent the previous 83 minutes watching includes no less than six songs from the very same concert. On top of that, a full pro-shot video of the Amsterdam performance has been widely circulated in collector's circles for at least a decade. In other words, for most members of Nirvana's fanbase, the extras are unappealing at best.

For the hardcore Nirvana fan, arguably the only reason to get the DVD is to watch a previously unreleased clip of Nirvana performing "On a Plain" at a 1991 rehearsal session. The clip, featuring the complete song, appears after the end credits roll over the screen.

Otherwise, fans will have to wait for a better DVD to emerge from the Nirvana camp, offering some of the previously unseen material that the 2004 Nirvana box set boasted. Hopefully the next Nirvana DVD to hit the stores will be an actual complete Nirvana concert, e.g. the legendary Unplugged performance of Nirvana's finest hour.

According to the latest NFC poll, 89% of those participating have pleged to buy the DVD.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Other reviews:
  • Rolling Stone
  • Associated Press
  • Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    Watch the DVD trailer here or order the DVD here.

    Posted in NFC news section at on 11-12-2006 @ 7:55 PM (GMT).

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