What’s Left? Re-examining the Live Record 1989 Part Three

The hole extending through 1988 and early 1989 runs right up to the middle of the year:

Whats Left_End of the Gap_May-Jul 1989

Again, the size of the gap makes it impossible to guarantee specific results, however, the relative narrowness of the core set-list makes it easy to predict likely conclusions regarding the ten missing/incomplete shows between June 25 and July 8. Firstly the set list visible on June 23-24 is still recognizable in the set-lists of July 8-9; we’re likely looking at ten performances all beginning with School, Floyd the Barber and Love Buzz and ending with Negative Creep and Blew. Similarly, though the order is unclear, we’re likely to be seeing; Dive, Spank Thru, About a Girl, Scoff, Big Cheese. Where are the uncertainties? I’m unsure about the fate of Sifting and feel unsteady assuming it dropped out of the set-list, I feel better assuming the Mr. Moustache turn up on July 8 was a one-off given it didn’t become a trend until late October, if I was being optimistic I’d hope for Blandest managing a one-off.

The rest of the year becomes easier — the gaps are shorter — but the conclusions of each show are flexible providing a degree of doubt to each prediction. What we’re looking at are fifteen remaining partial/absent set-lists. The first seven songs are almost entirely static from August 26 until November 15 covering eleven of the missing dates and fitting perfectly into the fragments of set-lists known for the incomplete dates. Given the Negative Creep/Blew unit is broken precisely once in the known set-lists I’ve got no problem predicting it, in whatever order, for the missing eleven too.

Whats Left_Jul-Nov 1989

So, that means, that of eleven incomplete/missing dates, containing somewhere between 143 and 187 songs (based on blunt extrapolation from the shortest and longest known shows of this period) we can tell what 84 of those songs were already plus the 29 definitely sighted according to the Nirvana Live Guide; 103. We can predict a few more definite sightings, for example, Token Eastern Song appears in every known set-list in October, meanwhile Spank Thru appears at all but one show for the entire year — they’re easy additions. Similarly Breed is a consistent presence from November 1 throughout the rest of the year making me confident it was part of the November 4 missing set; that’s another fourteen spaces definitely filled; 117 of 143/187. What are we missing?

Well, matters of debate. Token Eastern Song appears to have been honed into shape definitely after touring ceased in July, probably after the single August date, certainly by the September 1989 recording session with Steve Fisk where it made its first appearance, so there’s a good chance it was in the opening set-lists of the September touring season. Stain is another new arrival and though skipped on October 3 and 25 it’s a good bet for each of the missing dates; that’s two showings of Token Eastern and nine of Stain; 128 of 143/187. We’re still missing at least 15 tracks even if all the missing shows only amounted to the shortest of that period.

Whats Left_Jul-Nov 1989_Pt.2

Well, for starters, the most likely candidates are as follows; Paper Cuts, Mr. Moustache, Even in his Youth, Been a Son — the unpredictable outliers are Sifting and Vendetagainst. Even in his Youth emerged for certain on October 6, its in all the set-lists surrounding the gaps we have on October 7, 13 and 23 leading me to predict with near certainty three more (welcomed) live renditions of the song still to be found. Likewise, for November 4, I’m confident in saying Been a Son will have made the set-list given surrounding examples unless the show was massively curtailed for some reason. On the same date Mr. Moustache is likely given its brief flowering from late October through November. 133. That leaves us only ten definite absences though up to a max. of around 44. We’ll continue tomorrow.


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