Star Scene: Jon O’Connor ~ NIRVANA TRIBUTE (UK)

Jon O’Connor’s scene is “travelling”. The lead singer of Nirvana Tribute states: “My scene is travelling, seeing the world, and getting to spend time with family. That’s my scene.”

Jon O’Connor travels plenty, singing and playing the songs of his favourite band, Nirvana. As a tribute, not a cover band, hence the name. O’Connor explains: There’s a lot of Nirvana tribute bands out there. There’s none that actually do global. They don’t do global tours like we do. They just stay within their countries. But most of them tend to use takes on song titles or that kind of thing. I never really liked to do that. I really just wanted it to be what it says on the title, obviously.” As his YouTube channel states categorically: “NOTICE FOR PEOPLE THAT DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE WORD “TRIBUTE” … There seem to be some people that don’t get the fact that what we are doing is A TRIBUTE to Kurt Cobain & to Nirvana. A tribute to a man that has influenced & inspired us. A man we love & respect. Aside from this, We write, produce & play our own creations.”

O’connor expands: “I’ve actually been doing this for 10 years. I was doing it with two different guys for a number of years. One of them messaged me. They saw some of my work on YouTube, I think. He sent me a message. That was 2009, he sent me a message in September 2009, and by November I was in Boston playing a show. It was a bit of a weird start. I didn’t know the guys before. It turned out that I actually, once we got talking and stuff in Boston, me and the drummer realised that we’d actually met each other in Ireland five years before that … small world.”

O’Connor’s own music projects and his eclectic taste in music adds to his credibility as an artist. He states: “I actually liked a whole various … I like a range of things. I listened to the blues. I like Son House and John D. Hooker and stuff like that. I like Led Zeppelin. I like a lot of the classic kind of seventies rock, Black Sabbath and stuff like that. But yeah, my taste is pretty wide. I grew up in Ireland and some of the stuff that I was forced to listen to, it’ll stay with you forever.  But … of course, I grew up with Nirvana and stuff like that. I was lucky and fortunate that I hung around with some good people. There was an older kid at school, he had cassettes and gave me one. I stuck that on, and that was Bleach. I was eight years old or around that. I was hooked. Totally and utterly hooked.”

Nirvana purists may not be so keen to three musicians playing Nirvana if those musicians aren’t, or more accurately, weren’t Kurt, Chris and Dave. O’Connor would love these purists to come along and, he states: “If you want to relive that feeling, if you want to have that feeling again, if you want to experience that energy and that kind of feeling of chaos at any moment, and the energy and that rush of sound from the stage … Whether you’ve seen them before when they were around or whether you’d be just coming to see us to try and get something close to the experience, this is it. This is as close as you can possibly get. You can’t get closer than this. Once the three of us hit the stage, that’s it. It is what it is. For an hour and a half we stop being us and we become them. Expect to see something you never expected to see.”

O’Connor with Nirvana Tribute have had rave reviews from around the world. In particular O’Connor’s similarity to Kurt Cobain both in appearance and performance. He states: “Every time we go out on the stage, we try to give 100 percent the best performance that we can possibly give each and every night. And the response that we’ve gotten from people over the last few years of doing this is just, we want to take that everywhere we can. We want to present that to everybody and share this with everybody. We get great enjoyment out of that, and we feel that energy coming back at us again. It just makes us want to go further and further.  We’re very fortunate to do that. We’re very grateful.”

O’Connor continues: “There’s moments, certainly, that I find challenging on stage, when I see the reaction from people and people getting so emotional. The audiences’ reactions and stuff, I see people sometimes in the front row and there are tears in their eyes. Or just looking at the chaos in general and knowing that you’ve created that chaos.”

Emotionally, personally, O’Connor reveals that: “I always love to play Drain You. I know it was one of Kurt’s favourite songs to play on stage as well. Every time I play the opening chords of that, sing the start of that … yeah, that’s the one for me.”

Set lists are difficult to organise. Drain You, and School, as well as the expected chart-toppers, are all part of the performance. O’Connor expands: “It is difficult, because we constantly have people in the audience just shouting out songs at us. Some of them we will play, some of them we just don’t play. There are so many songs and people want … well, they don’t just want the hits. The real fans that come out, they want the deep cuts. They want to hear things that they never expected to hear live. So, we try to do a little bit of that, but we can’t play everything. We want to, but we can’t play everything. Otherwise, we’d have a Paul McCartney-style three and a half hour set or something like that, which would be fun. Don’t get me wrong. But it would be kind of exhausting at that energy level.” O’Connor laughs: “Paul gets to sit down sometimes.”

Finally O’Connor states: “I’m extremely excited about coming to Australia. It’s something that I’ve had on my bucket list for so long. When this opportunity to do this tour came up, I grabbed it with both hands. I’m really excited about it. I’m hoping that this is just the start of a long friendship with Australia.”

Catch  O’Connor and Nirvana Tribute on their first Australian tour. 

Nirvana Tribute UK: Tour dates:

Thu 12 December: Brisbane, The Zoo

Fri 13 December: Sydney, Manning Bar

Sat 14 December: Melbourne, The Prince

Sun 15 December: Adelaide, Jive


Tickets on sale: NOW


About Mary Boukouvalas 1641 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos,,,, She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.