Unplugged: Nirvana Reimagined – ‘…the closest we will ever come to seeing Kurt live in concert’

Our Unplugged: Nirvana Reimagined concert was an amazing success, and here is what the reviewers are saying:

“This was no regular concert, this was an immersive experience. The vocals were outstanding. The crowd stomped and cheered their way through the duration of the encore wait. The curtain finally lifted to reveal Burford wearing a different band T-shirt and cardigan, however, the more exciting costume change was PSO members wearing sleeveless vests to reveal tattooed arms. The encore comprised three of Nirvana’s biggest mainstream hits, which were not originally included on the Unplugged setlist; Lithium, In Bloom, and Smells Like Teen Spirt. The crowd could no longer contain their excitement, with many leaping out of their seats to mosh. The excitement intensified when four girls in cheerleading outfits waving pom poms made their way to the front of the stage for the final song of the night. At this point, not even PSO musicians could contain themselves with many jumping up to dance while continuing to play their instruments. In full rockstar mode, one of the violinists took centre stage to smash her violin to pieces!

The performance left no doubt as to why this event sold-out well in advance. Burford and PSO did Kurt Cobain and Nirvana justice. Unsurprisingly, they received a well-deserved standing ovation for their efforts.”

– Amy Smith of The Music. Read the full review here.

“From the moment the concert started, everyone was in character as the show transported us back through time to November 18, 1993. “Is Kurt Cobain in the house? Please report to Studio One,” was heard over the speakers as the stage-hands inspired by the old MTV Unplugged set in New York rushed around putting the final touches in place.

End of Fashion frontman Justin Burford as Kurt Cobain finally came out, hair unkempt and wearing a baggy, knitted jumper – looking the part and indeed sounding very much like Kurt for most of the performance. Burford and the orchestra started with About A Girl and Jesus Doesn’t Want Me For A Sunbeam, surprisingly breaking with the original album’s setlist order two tracks in. But if you closed your eyes, you could imagine that you were in the room with Kurt himself.

They managed to capture the souls of the songs in such a way that you just knew that Kurt would have been so happy with it and especially with the last three songs of the night – Lithium, In Bloom and Smells Like Teen Spirit – even ending the night with the violent smashing of a violin.”

– Karen Lowe of Xpress Magazine. Read the full review here.

Ash Gibson Greig’s arrangements of the original MTV Unplugged setlist (plus a few extra tracks) were the perfect blend between familiar recognition and refreshing originality. Greig truly rose to the challenge in translating the MTV Unplugged experience to an orchestral context. The instrumentation brought a variety of colours to successfully convey the messages of the songs, and I was particularly impressed with the woodwind writing. Who knew that Lake of Fire needed a bluesy bassoon solo? Or that the mournful oboe solo in Where Did You Sleep Last Night could make an already sad song even more heartbreaking?

But the star of the night was vocalist, actor, and associate music director Justin Burford. Burford was an incredible Kurt Cobain, capturing the talent, poignancy and humour of the late icon perfectly. His interactions with Gethin and the audience between songs were full of humour and warmth, and his stage manner was open, vulnerable and almost shy. When Burford performed Pennyroyal Tea sitting cross legged on the stage floor, I wanted to climb onto the stage, give him a big hug and tell him, “Everything’s going to be ok!”. His singing was clear yet with the appropriate amount of grit and intensity to do Cobain justice; the famous vocal climax of Where Did You Sleep Last Night was beautifully heart-stopping, a testament to the talent of both Cobain and himself.

– Laura Biemmi of CutCommon Magazine. Read the full review here.