Book review: Nirvana: A Tour Diary, Andy Bollen

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KURT Cobain loved the Bay City Rollers and entertained secret hopes of one day visiting Bellshill and Airdrie.

Nirvana: A Tour Diary

Andy Bollen

Metro, £7.99

These are the things you learn when you read Nirvana: A Tour Diary and converse with its author, Andy Bollen, an Airdrieonian whose role as drummer in Captain America, Nirvana’s support act in the winter of 1991, gave him an intimate perspective on the sudden rise of one of the greatest and most complex rock bands of all time.

Since Cobain’s suicide in 1994 there have been many books published about Nirvana, most of them rehashed cash-ins, and no doubt there are more to come as the 20th anniversary approaches. ­Bollen’s memoir, though, is a welcome curio.

He offers neither a critical appreciation nor an insider’s revelations, but rather a mixture of the two. Though not a long-term Nirvana confidante, he was an eyewitness at a ­crucial, dizzying moment in their story; essentially, a fan who made it on to the other side of the dressing room door.

Bollen, like many of the rest of us, marvelled at the idiosyncratic performance of Smells Like Teen Spirit on Top Of 
The Pops; the difference was that he watched the broadcast in the company of Nirvana themselves.

He played drums with them during an encore of Molly’s Lips; spent many chatty backstage hours in the company of a pre-iconic Cobain and saw him, fragile and jaundiced and stinking, in the grips of heroin addiction. He saw the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end.

For Scottish admirers of Nirvana, in particular those who were fortunate enough to have seen them on the Nevermind tour, the highlight of this book will, probably, be the account of their November 30 per­formance at the Queen Margaret Union in Glasgow.

I myself was outside, listening to the muffled show, feeling bitter that I did not have a ticket. Bollen’s book is, in its wry and sideways-glancing way, the next best thing to ­having been there. «