(Quick) Nirvana Tour of Edinburgh


It seems I’ve been granted my 15 seconds of Internet era fame, how funny. The dearly beloved girlfriend of a dearly beloved friend pointed out there was a new NME Nirvana Special in the local newsagent during a trip to Edinburgh. Late last night on the way home at 23.00 I started flipping through and stopped during the discussion of Cobain’s Fecal Matter demos because the NME referenced me in the piece. How chucklesome! Made me smile. This is the post I made that it seems to be referring to – nice to be seen…


Now, the things my poor friends have to endure…A quick stroll of the centre of Edinburgh readily throws up two Nirvana locations; the former Calton Studios where Nirvana played on October 26, 1990 and November 29, 1991 plus The Southern Bar where Dave Grohl and Cobain played an acoustic set for a local charity on December 1, 1991 – usefully still called ‘The Southern.’ Even I could spot that!

Carton Studios_1

Carton Studios_2

The Southern

Not much to add really except the fact that these shows had a genuine personal connection for Cobain. For a start, he’d personally requested that the Japanese band Shonen Knife join Nirvana for the tour in late 1990 which involved contacting their booking agency in Japan to set things up. Next, he used the Edinburgh show as a chance to persuade the Vaselines to reform for one night only – again, this was a chance to flex some personal musical loves – two on the same night! Remember also this was pre-Nevermind Nirvana, the Nirvana that didn’t have that much weight or power. This was the first real moment where Cobain could indulge in this way by getting those he adored to come play with his band; imagine if there was a first time that you were able to get your favourite artists to come perform with you, to reform just for you, that’d be a pretty great evening.

The 1991 performances were a further personal event; Nirvana had toured with a band way back in 1989, on their first U.K. tour, called the Cateran – another Scottish favourite (damn, Scotland had a lot going on! Cobain’s loyalty continued later with Teenage Fanclub being his choice for summer 1992.) The Cateran morphed into The Joyriders (Murdo MacLeod and Kai Davidson, former Cateran-ers forming the core of the new band) and, while he brought Captain America (heir to the Vaselines) and Shonen Knife on tour again, he paused for one night to support a local event set up by his old friends in the Joyriders.

There was a further personal reason for the hook up given Murdo was the brother of Nirvana’s tour manager Alex Macleod and had stayed in touch over the intervening years. Apparently Cobain and Grohl turned up so late many people had gone home after the Joyriders’ set (word had gotten round that the ‘very special’ guests were Nirvana) but once they arrived a lock-in ensued with the Cobain/Grohl combination kicking out a mini-set for the lucky couple dozen left. A charmed night indeed with all money then turned over for the Royal Hospital for Sick Children.

Here’s a little map ripped off from Google in case the stroll appeals to you sometime.

Edinburgh Map


6 thoughts on “(Quick) Nirvana Tour of Edinburgh”

  1. Nice to see you’re being read, Nicholas.
    Don’t forget when interviewed by Brain Wills, I think, for the NME piece “Domicile on Cobain Street”, Kurt said there were only two places he’d ever want to live. One was Seattle, the other Scotland. When pushed for where in Scotland, Kurt answered Edinburgh.
    Which proves how little he knows, since it’s well known that Edinburgh is a complete and utter shit-hole compared to Glasgow. (And having lived in both, I consider myself THE authority on this topic.)

  2. Ingleby Gallery is where ‘The Venue’ was located. Nirvana played at Calton Studios which was a bit further along that street. I was at the ’91 gig there and at the QM gig in Glasgow the next night.

    Went along to the Southern Bar gig, but left after we were told it had been cancelled. My pal hung around and caught ‘Teen Spirit’. Jealous. likes.

  3. I don’t know if anyone still reads this but yer pal certainly did not catch “…Teen Spirit”. Kurt and Dave Grohl did a wee acoustic set, and did not play that. In aid of the “sick kids”. It was also not “The Venue”, it was the Calton Studios. Entirely different venue, which they played twice. They played Glasgow, once, at the QM Student Union, the day after their second trip to Edinburgh. And the day after that they were back in Edinburgh, though very much the worse for wear. Kris was ill, so it was Dave and Kurt only.

    I only say this as in my youth I loved Nirvana and remember that Kurt Cobain said in an interview he’d only live in Seattle and Scotland, and I was searching for the quote. I’m really glad that people still like Nirvana, they along with Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Tad etc were really a breath of fresh air to the likes of me. In the UK it was the time of mdnchester!

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