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Hear Nirvana Play "Dumb" and "Polly" Acoustic at an Edinburgh Pub in 1991

A remarkable recording of Nirvana—sans bassist Krist Novoselic—playing an acoustic show at Edinburgh's Southern Bar for an audience of around two dozen people in 1991 has surfaced online for the first time.

According to the Edinburgh News, local band The Joyriders had invited the band to play at a fundraiser for the city's Sick Kids hospital, which was taking place at the pub. Not wanting to cause a scene by listing the band—then in the midst of their meteoric rise to superstardom—on the bill, The Joyriders listed the trio on the bill as "very, very special American guests."

Cobain—perhaps unprepared for the rough Scottish winter despite his Washington upbringing—was deathly ill, allegedly lying in a fetal position on the couch in the hours prior to the show. Despite his condition though, he remained committed to performing that night, despite stern medical advice to cancel.

By the time the trio showed up, the crowd—skeptical of the promised "special guests"—had largely thinned, leaving around two dozen lucky patrons to witness a very hoarse Cobain and Dave Grohl run through "Dumb," "Polly," "Jesus Don't Want Me For a Sunbeam" and Shonen Knife's "Twist Barbie" (though the audio of this final song has not been salvaged).

You can hear the ragged, but fascinating set above.

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Jackson Maxwell
Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player (opens in new tab). Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder (opens in new tab) and Unrecorded (opens in new tab). Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.