Gary Flockhart: Don’t miss Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

Kurt Cobain. Pic: Comp
Kurt Cobain. Pic: Comp
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WARY of the hype, I told myself I’d let the dust settle before watching HBO’s Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck - needless to say, I caved in to my own curiosity and watched it the other night.

Like so many people in their teens at the time of its release, 1991’s Nevermind was a game-changer for me. It really hit a nerve. It was so aggressive but also so melodic and was like nothing I’d ever heard.

Nevermind became so much more than just one of the biggest-selling records of its era - it revolutionised rock, blowing away the cobwebs left by the hair metal of the Eighties and opening the door to the mainstream for countless other bands in the alternative scene.

As we see in Montage of Heck, there was a raging conflict in Cobain. He craved fame, but had no idea just how drastically his life would change after Nevermind’s release.

Led by the popularity of the MTV-friendly single Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nevermind, which would go on to sell 30 million copies, transformed the troubled singer into the reluctant voice of a generation.

As everyone knows, in 1994, at the age of 27, he blew his brains out.

Since then there have been countless books and documentaries on Cobain, and there’s very little to write about that hasn’t already been written - all of which makes Montage of Heck essential viewing.

Courtney Love gave director Brett Morgen access to a private storage unit of Cobain’s belongings and he skilfully blended the singer’s personal archive of art, music and never-before-seen home movies with animation and revelatory interviews from his family and closest confidantes.

Admittedly, there’s some cringeworthy footage of Kurt and Courtney playing happy families to endure, and the footage of a fairly drugged-out-looking Cobain playing with his new baby daughter, Frances Bean, is particularly bittersweet.

That aside, this is a fresh, detailed and strikingly intimate portrait of a true music icon - and a must-see for any Nirvana fan.