As we mentioned on Wednesday, the legendary Paul McCartney joined forces with the surviving members of Nirvana (and touring guitarist- practical shoe-in for permanent member had Kurt survived, Pat Smear) to perform at the 12-12-12 benefit concert for Hurricane Sandy relief at Madison Square Garden. Despite hope and speculation of a possible Nirvana or Beatles cover (that wouldn’t have made much sense, really, but one can dream), the supergroup performed an entirely new song called “Cut Me Some Slack.” As you might imagine from the unequal balance, the track tends to skew more Nirvana-esque than Macca-esque in tone. McCartney is certainly no stranger to delivering his vocals with agression and angst when the song calls for it (“Helter Skelter” anyone?), but juxtaposed with Nirvana’s grungy, melancholy tonality and agressive rhythmic structure (especially on the studio version of the track, which you can snag now on iTunes), McCartney sounds more like McKurtney than I ever would have imagined. Make no mistake, McCartney isn’t trying to be Kurt (especially in lyrical regard- but it’s not like a 70-year-old man would be able to sincerely write lyrics in the style of a troubled 25-year-old anyway), but rather adapting musically to the three strong personalities he’s playing with. The inevitable byproduct is a balance somewhere in the middle that reflects the sum of its parts, yet yields something separate from them. It’s hard to judge this supergroup from just one track (and a hurried one at that), but no matter what your thoughts on it, this is certainly one for the history books.
Here’s a video of the 12-12-12 performance. I’m not sure how long it’ll stay up, as no official videos have been posted:
I should have seen it coming, I really should have. I recommended Paul McCartney’s SNL performance in Music on Television this week as the only thing to look out for on Saturday night. The 12-12-12 show was only nights before in the same city. Maybe it seemed too unlikely to have ever even happened once in the first place, and I was still reeling with disbelief from that, but when McCartney took the stage for his second song of the evening (the first a rather so-so choice to perform his nearly year-old single “My Valentine”), this time with Nirvana in tow, I was sincerely surprised. And, if there was ever any doubt as to the strength and energy of this too-good-to-be-true supergroup, their SNL performance pretty confidently shattered it. It might have been the smaller setting, the element of surprise in giving it a second go, the holiday spirit, or just the general, sincere fun the group seems to be having in performing together- but the SNL performance was leaps and bounds above the already solid MSG show. At this time, it’s unclear what, if any, the future plans for this mega musical mashup are, but man would I love to see what else they’re capable of (or, if nothing else, the Nirvana members are inspired to continue making music together in some capacity). Only time will tell! If nothing else comes of it, though, at least we can now reminisce about that time we witnessed Paul McCartney perform a new track with Nirvana on live television and then follow it with “Wonderful Christmastime” in the year 2012 and it won’t be a recount of some weird, pleasant dream.
I can almost guarantee this won’t stay up for long, but here’s the best bootleg I could find on last night’s SNL performance (make sure to choose HD for the best sound):