Unplugged: Nirvana Reimagined Perth Review @ His Majesty's Theatre

Published in Music News  
Unplugged: Nirvana Reimagined took place at His Majesty's Theatre (Perth) 28 September. 2018. Unplugged: Nirvana Reimagined took place at His Majesty's Theatre (Perth) 28 September. 2018.

With candelabras flickering, a mass of flowers adorning the stage, a rugged-looking singer sitting on an office chair under the spotlight with a full orchestra behind him. Then it began. Unplugged: Nirvana Reimagined.


As if plucked from the dead, Justin Burford's role as Kurt Cobain took me back, together with the Perth Symphony Orchestra's (PSO) intriguing arrangements and performance. They had the sold-out crowd at His Majesty's Theatre (28 September) mesmerised.

"How do you like my band? Certified honorary punk rockers," Justin recited.

From the sounds of violins and trumpet delightfully messing with my expectations during 'The Man Who Sold The World', to the tuba and harp features during 'Plateau' and 'Oh Me' respectively, it was a performance to be respected for its alluring complexity.

Nirvana Reimagined.2 2018Image © Nathan Bullivant

Composer, arranger and re-imaginer, Ash Gibson Greig explained the premise behind this production, which returned for a second year after its debut by PSO last year. "I would never think I could speak for Kurt [Cobain], but there was a lot of humour in what he did."

But there were a few changes made to last year's performance. "I made a few tweaks to some arrangements and re-worked one in particular," he said.

Something about Justin sitting on the front of the stage at crowd level during 'Pennyroyal Tea' shifted the atmosphere to another level, as if we were at an intimate concert rather than sitting in plush surrounds of His Majesty's.

Click here to read our recent interview with Justin Burford.

The news clippings and scripts beamed across the screen throughout the night reminded us of the depth of Nirvana's history and contribution to the world during their seven years together.

An encore after the curtain went down gave rise to the conductor in flannelette ditching her baton and playing the violin. Justin looked at ease with his electric guitar and the sounds of a drum kit brought a sharper rock sound to the last songs.

Nirvana Reimagined.3 2018Image © Nathan Bullivant

Unexpectedly, iconic cheerleaders danced at the front of the stage during 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' and then, the smashing of a violin as the final curtain went down and the crowd stood in ovation. I couldn't help but admire the heavily pregnant violinist whose baby is likely to be enriched with the sounds of Nirvana.

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