(Originally Posted March 31, 2000 to the Internet Nirvana Fan Club Bulletin Board)
I know that when many of you get a bootleg in, you listen to the first few songs and file it away. I've done this on occasion, but I always make an effort to listen to every recording I have at least three or four times...
That being said, to me there's no greater rush than popping in an In Utero tour show. I can just imagine it... the house lights are out and theres a huge air of anticipation in the audience when out of nowhere, a wail of feedback starts. You can hear the crowd literally exploding as the show starts, especially when Dave taps his drumsticks and the lights go on. Radio Friendly Unit Shifter is one of my favorite songs, and I think its an absolutely perfect opening song. As the song builds to a climax, Kurt thrashes around stage while Pat runs all over, a huge grin on his face because he's the luckiest man alive. Krist pogoes and Dave pounds the drums like there's no tomorrow. The next song is Drain You, which is probably my favorite song. The snowflake light show provides a perfect backdrop to this song, which Kurt ALWAYS enjoyed playing. As the band leads into the interlude, more feedback howls in between the watery undistorted notes and the vacuum-like distorted parts. As the interlude comes to a close, Kurt steps up to the microphone and delivers a scream that echoes throughout the entire building while the lights in the background blind the entire audience...sheer perfection. Breed is always good, and then another favorite of mine, Serve the Servants comes. This song has what is probably my favorite guitar solo, and I can tell Kurt is enjoying himself almost every time he performed the song.
While the earlier shows of the tour had About a Girl and then Heart-Shaped Box, I like the setlist they used towards the end of the tour, featuring Come As You Are and Smells Like Teen Spirit. Both of these songs were usually pretty good, and they always got the crowd going. A lot of times its obvious that Kurt didn't want to play Teen Spirit, but other times (such as 12/31/93) he performed the song with a menacing relish that most Nevermind versions lack. Sliver is always good, although most versions sound alike. Another touching moment that is missing on earlier shows is Dumb, featuring the beautiful cello part. In Bloom was always great, as were About a Girl and Lithium. Lithium was always uplifting as the audience sang along and the bright lights mimiced Kurts every scream.
Another favorite of mine is Pennyroyal Tea, and I love how every version has a different intro... this is one song that REALLY sounded good during 2/22/94. School always got Kurt going. He seemed to relish playing the song on every In Utero tour video I've seen. Polly always provided another delicate moment, especially on the Europe 94 tour with Melora Craeger's beautiful cello part.
Depending on the show, the 15th and 16th songs were always brilliant. The addition of Frances Farmer to the setlist in December added a great counterpart to the always brilliant Milk It. Often those two songs were the highlight of the show. While Rape Me was always good before In Utero, it often took chilling and triumphant overtones after. Every version was a big "fuck you" to anyone who dared speak for Kurt. As was Territorial Pissings.
One of my favorite Nirvana moments occurred when they would come back out for the encore during this tour. Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam and The Man Who Sold the World were always surreal, and to me this is another reason why I love this tour so much. The two songs were always moving and uplifting, and full of pain, sorrow, and triumph. All Apologies and On a Plain were either uplifting or sad, depending on the night. Kurts vocals were usually great during these songs too. Scentless Apprentice always stomped the hell out of the crowd while Kurt's blood-curdling screams echoed through the hall. Heart-Shaped Box, another favorite song of mine, always brought down the house, and the solo is absolute perfection... unreal. Blew is always a great set-closer...when the band would play Endless Nameless it was always eerie, almost creepy.
One of the main arguments against this tour is that not enough rare songs were played... I can buy that, but in my opinion the performances more than made up for it. Like the few times they played Sappy, those were always surreal, magical. I envy anyone who got to go to an In Utero show in whch Sappy was performed. And the performance of Where Did You Sleep Last Night on 2/14/94 gives me chills every time I listen to it. Very Ape was always good too.
Don't get me wrong, I love all the tours. I just love this one the most... it means the most to me personally. In Utero is my favorite album, and as an artist, the performances from this tour are to me the closest you can get to perfection.
- Matt Reeder.