Remembering when Nirvana played ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ live with Red Hot Chilli Peppers bassist Flea on trumpet
We’re diving back into the Far Out Magazine Vault and digging out a classic moment Red Hot Chili Peppers’ very own bass player Flea joined Nirvana on stage for a special rendition of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.
The occasion, which took place in Brazil on January 23rd 1993, offered a moment of South American redemption for Kurt Cobain and Nirvana who had previously caused a major stir following a disastrous concert just a week before when they were booed by the crowd. That show, which is often described as Nirvana’s worst ever live performance, was criticised after Cobain was said to be heavily intoxicated and struggling to play some of the band’s most well known songs.
That performance fell as part of Brazil’s Hollywood Rock Festival which, at the time, was headlined by Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Simply Red. Nirvana’s disastrous performance was made up of random cover versions, the band members repeatedly and swapping instruments and rounded off by Cobain spitting on the lens of national television camera covering the event.
While continually stinking up the place, the band brought out Chili Peppers’ bassist Flea to play the trumpet live on ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ but this collaboration was overlooked as headlines, exclusive footage and reviews focused predominantly on Nirvana’s poor performance. A week later, however, Cobain and the Seattle band returned to the stage in Brazil to give a better account of themselves at the Praça da Apoteose.
In a set that still included cover versions of Georges Bizet, The Viletones and Aerosmith, Nirvana successfully changed the negative headlines written about them in the days that proceeded with a slick, well rehearsed live performance. After playing ‘About a Girl’ Nirvana again introduced Flea to the stage armed with his wild dancing and brass instrument to give the crowd a successfully unusual take on ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.
See the clip and setlist, below.
Nirvana Brazil 1993 Setlist
‘L’amour est un oiseau rebelle’ – (Georges Bizet cover with “Telephone Line” by ELO intro)
‘Come as You Are’
‘Love Buzz’ – (Shocking Blue cover)
‘Possibilities’ – (The Viletones cover)
‘About a Girl’
‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ – (With Flea playing trumpet)