Nirvana are one of the greatest bands of all time. Elvis is one of the greatest performers of all time, and he helped to invent rock’n’roll. So you’d expect that when you smash the two together it would be absolutely fucking epic. You would be entirely correct. But you’d also be wrong to think that Elvana, the mash-up band who cover Elvis songs in the style of Nirvana – and vice versa – would sound like either, as they proved in the William’s Green tent at Glastonbury 2022 last night (June 23).
Elvana slammed ‘In Bloom’ together with ‘Viva Las Vegas’ and ‘A Little Less Conversation’ into ‘Teen Spirit’. As Glastonbury wound up before the action really kicks off on Friday, here was a show that led the band’s catsuited frontman to drawl in a cartoony American accent: “Have y’all had a good time? Have y’all had a weird time?” The answer from the packed tent was extremely in the affirmative, as our ‘Elvis’ and his guitarist Danny Cobain, drummer Bobby Grohl, bassist Rob Novoselic and pom-pom wielding backing singers Charlotte and Stephanie found.
Let us count the reasons why…
It was just so fucking fun
Like doing a key with your naughty uncle at a family wedding fun. Nirvana were a one-off creative behemoth whose frontman channeled Gen X rage and disaffection into pummelling grunge pop songs that sounded like they’d been excavated from the Earth’s molten core. For every ‘Hound Dog’, Elvis had 10 devastating ballads about loss and heartbreak. This was pure panto: at one point, someone in the crowd handed ‘Elvis’ a toy guitar and he mugged” “What would Kurt Cobain do with this acoustic guitar…?”
Their Taylor Hawkins tribute was anachronistic but beautiful
At one point, ‘Elvis’ – seemingly semi-accidentally – led the crowd in an “Ayy-oooh” chant in the vein of Freddie Mercury at Live Aid in 1985. Yet, unlike the late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, a noted Queen super-fan, he soon cut this short. “Fucking hell!” he roared. “I’m trying to do Kurt Cobain and Elvis. Let’s leave Freddie Mercury out of this… I love you, Freddie. It’s all good. Take good care of Taylor for us.” Elvis didn’t know Taylor Hawkins; Kurt didn’t know Taylor Hawkins – but it made for a beautiful moment.
It even got a bit Bowie
Before rounding off the night with a cover of David Bowie‘s ‘The Man Who Sold The World’, which Nirvana famously covered at their 1993 MTV Unplugged concert, ‘Elvis’ sheepishly admitted that he was a fella from “Newcastle upon Tyne” who “pretends to be Elvis who pretends to be Kurt Cobain who pretends to be David Bowie”. Cue a London accent even dodgier than his American one (and this from a man who admitted: “I don’t do the best Elvis impression!”)
Elvana love a contrabanger
‘Rape Me’ is an incendiary song in the Nirvana arsenal – a brutal denouncement of capitalism, fame and actual rape – but it was controversial in 1993, with some fans expressing their discomfort with its lyrics, and remains so now. It was bold, then, for Elvana to mash the contrabanger up with The King’s heartfelt weepie ‘Love Me Tender’ – something even sarky Kurt wouldn’t have done. Some members of the crowd seemed unsure as to whether they were allowed to sing along. Nevermind!
Kurt was never this sincere
Last night’s ‘Elvis’ made a series of endearingly syrupy speeches about their pandemic-delayed journey to Worthy Farm, and even invited punters to “put your arm around the person next to you and feel some love”. Kurt would have puked. But then our Prez also implored everyone to “hold onto your clits, dicks and tits”, which might have been beneath the clean-cut King of Rock’n’roll, but was emblematic of a ridiculous, colourful and wildly entertaining contribution to the first night of Glastonbury 2022.