Nirvana Tour: Touring the Centre…Part One

Floor 5_Hotel Max

I’m no stranger to obsessive behaviour, as I said yesterday, this site now has the equivalent of four full-length novels on it for example — around 400,000 words in 285 articles (I’ve deleted around 30 recently too). The ‘collector’ urge has seen me rampage the entire discography of one artist after another over some eighteen years now…It occurred to me on an unseasonably hot day in Seattle that I was treating real-life locations the same way.


In one of those unusual coincidences this trip has been laced with the Hotel Max upgraded me to the ‘rock floor’. The lift doors open and this is the view that confronts one immediately. I was in the next room up from the Cobain door, a shot of Steve Albini playing with Big Black. Genuinely, if you can make it onto the fifth floor, Hotel Max does have a reasonable claim to be the most Seattle-music-friendly hotel in the city; the hotel room came complete with vinyl record player, a stack of Sub Pop-supplied albums, a touch of rock album art on the wall…




…I admit it, I was pleased. The central location, couple blocks over from the Paramount, made it an ideal starting point for romping round most significant Nirvana sites in Central Seattle. Happy to compliment the place, the staff were a delight and it does make a difference when people are so good. I’d been unsure about the place the first time I stayed — comfy room but building work going on outside the window — and it made a difference to me that when I rebooked it felt like they cared about that and wanted to actually impress me. They did. By this point in the tour tiredness had set in, switching beds night-after-night, humping luggage from one place to the next and realising that increasingly I was breaking my back just to transport dirty laundry…A good bed, in a good room, a touch of comfort — don’t mind saying it appealed.


In the area around the Experience Music Project there are two sites of primary interest in a Nirvana sense…The first threw me back to April 1994, sitting watching the MTV tributes to Kurt Cobain, footage of soaked kids running through a fountain — I’d forgotten about it entirely, at short notice I can just find the one photo in this article, I’m sure there are tonnes about (


It’s an impressive monument at any time, a decent stretch of free space in a city centre that doesn’t seem to have many parks (a distinct contrast with London). Still in use of course and long since moved on from memorial purposes to simply being a children’s amusement.

On the same site you’ll find two other Nirvana moments, the former Seattle Center Coliseum, venue for the September 11, 1992 show in support of the Washington Music Industry Coalition.


On April 11, 1995 the city sold the naming rights to KeyCorp leading to its new name; the KeyArena — that’s what you’re looking for. It’s the biggest Nirvana-related site in the State of Washington but, of course, it’s just a stadium after all. Again, you’re not seeing it as it was, a year after Nirvana played there, the site was shut and refurbished and redesigned; life won’t wait and nor will entertainment facilities in the Pacific North-West it seems. I don’t know why, must have been feeling the heat (contrary to popular opinion it can get pretty darn bright and warm in Seattle, I sunburnt on a couple days up there) but I somehow confused it with the next location so ended up not taking photos of the KeyArena/Seattle Center Coliseum…Oops. My bad.

Former Ticket Hall of Coliseum

The photos you’re seeing here actually refer to a location around another corner where you’ll find the Seattle Center Arena, now known as Mercer Arena, an 8,000 seat venue and site of Nirvana’s final shows in Seattle on January 7-8, 1994.

Former Ticket Hall of Coliseum_3

The former entrance is simply closed up and left abandoned now the new entrances/exits have been opened but these are the doors attendees walked through in January ’94 — I was lucky enough to have Tyler Willman, one of the attendees, strolling with me that day to point it out for me.

Former Ticket Hall of Coliseum_2

I think I’ll close down here for the day and head on home. A few more posts to come and yes, at some point I’ll get around to trying to compile, professionalise and clean this all up into something more user-friendly for anyone tempted to go walk the Nirvana steps.


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