Kurt Cobain tribute show at The Wedgewood Rooms to fundraise for Reverse Rett charity

Portsmouth musicians Dan Saywers (left) and Craig Perry.
Portsmouth musicians Dan Saywers (left) and Craig Perry.
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For rock music fans of a certain age, April 5, 1994 was a dark day.

It was the day Nirvana frontman, Kurt Cobain, an unwilling spokesman for a generation, took his own life by gunshot.

Twenty-five years on, a group of Portsmouth musicians are paying tribute to the Seattle musician with a one-off show which will also raise money for the Reverse Rett charity

The show is the brainchild of Craig Perry, after he first realised the anniversary was coming up during a chat in the pub a couple of years ago.

‘From there, the idea laid dormant,’ says Craig, ‘but I started putting out the feelers late last year and it’s snowballed.

‘I called my friend Dan Sawyers and asked him if he was interested in playing some Nirvana stuff, because we’d played together before and I knew he was in to that kind of thing and he was straight on it. And a couple of my old band mates were interested, so it went from there.’

Craig wanted to make it more than just a standard tribute gig, and he’s aiming high, with narration from professional actors, and videos as well as the music.

‘Concept-wise, from a musical standpoint, it’s similar to Jeff Wayne’s War of The Worlds.

‘I’ve essentially ended up writing a small book about Kurt Cobain and divided it up into 25 chapters. All the chapters are set to videos, so it’s like a mini-movie at the same time

‘I’ve read several unauthorised biographies and watched some documentaries and pulled various bits and pieces from them.

‘It’s become a huge project.

‘We’ll be giving a nod to some of the other grunge acts from the era like Pearl jam, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden as well.

‘It’s more focused on him as an individual rather than his band, but obviously Nirvana feature quite heavily. There was always a conflict between his music and his personal life – and there’s the heroin and the depression –  it’s quite hard-hitting.

‘Everyone knows how the story ends, so I thought I’d put together as brutal and as honest an account as I can muster, without getting people too down about things, but there are a lot of highs and lows in there. ‘There are points which will make you laugh and points which will make you cry.

‘We had a rehearsal using a couple of projectors so we could see the videos, and when it came to the last couple of chapters, one of the bassists, he actually started crying. 

‘I’m obviously not aiming to make people cry, but the night is going to be an emotional rollercoaster.’

Dan Sawyers’ stepdaughter Lucy has Rett Syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects brain development resulting in severe mental and physical disability. Dan has previously put on fundraisers for the charity under the Rock For Rett banner.

’I was always adamant that I’m not concerned about making any money from this,’ says Craig, ‘I just wanted people to see my work, so a charity aspect was always on the cards. 

‘When I contacted Dan and said I wasn’t making any money out of it, he suggested Reverse Rett, as it’s  obviously quite close to his heart.’


Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea

Saturday, August 17