An early shot of Jane’s Addiction.
The Late Show was a multi-topic program broadcast on BBC2 which featured issues of cultural importance such as art, books, films and segments dedicated to more socially conscience topics such as military conflicts and religion. Not to diminish such things, they also featured live musical performances by musicians and groups such as XTC, the ethereal Jeff Buckley and The Stone Roses who appeared on the show in during its first year in 1989. In 1993 The Late Show broadcast a special called “No Nirvana” that featured a collection of what is referred to as the all encompassing sounding “contemporary American rock bands” that had previously appeared on the show.
The title of the show was allegedly intended to be a joke directed at The Late Show itself because for some reason the band had never appeared on it. Most likely because they had suddenly become the biggest band in the world after the release of their 1991 album Nevermind. The grouping for The Late Show’s late-night Contemporary American Rock lovefest delivered was to say the least, a pretty solid knockout punch when it came to the lineup. Though they were part of the original broadcast, performances by Pearl Jam (doing “Alive”) and Rage Against the Machine (performing “Bullet in the Head”) are not included in the footage below. What you will see are Jane’s Addiction pulling off a great version of “Been Caught Stealing,” Sonic Youth’s killer version of “Drunken Butterfly,” Seattle grunge heroes Screaming Trees led by a long-haired Mark Lanegan doing “Dollar Bill,” and more from the likes of Belly, Dinosaur Jr. (with a nearly unrecognizable J Mascis), Smashing Pumpkins, Minneapolis band Sugar, and R.E.M.
So, before you start pounding away on your smartphone to tell me that Screaming Trees are about as much of a “contemporary American rock band” as a hippie drum circle, I’m way ahead of you there, pal. I’m merely recycling dialog from the amusingly formal narration delivered by host Tracey MacLeod at the beginning of the clip. Which while it technically applies, still sounds too much like something you’d hear during a PBS fundraising pledge. And speaking of the beginning of the clip, the first minute features some strange visuals that are meant to correlate to the bands themselves. So Jane’s Addiction gets footage of a tattooed guy winding a leather strap around his arm as he prepares to shoot up, and a guy giggling his giant gut is used to represent the band Belly. Awww.
The ‘No Nirvana’ special from ‘The Late Show’ on BBC2 that originally aired back in 1993.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Killing Joke, Nick Cave, The Damned & Billy Idol lip-synching for their lives on 80s television
Electrifying early-80s footage of The Cure, Bauhaus and The Smiths on the ‘Oxford Road Show’
‘I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’: Joan Jett & the Blackhearts killing it live back in 1981