Here was the moment at the Courtney Love show last night, and it was brief: right after “Violet,” there’s the usual applause and all, but then it comes back, and surges into a roar, like the crowd all agrees to just cheer the shit out of Courtney Love for, I don’t know, being through hell, most of it self-inflicted, and being murdered by the media, and having her daughter taken away once or twice, and the Kurt thing, but living through it against the odds, and now, playing a sparsely-populated show in some fuckin’ chicken town, and showing up in a silver cutaway jumpsuit and bare feet and way-fake boobs and ratty blonde hair, and actually smiling while singing lines like “I always wanted to die”—and then, during this spontaneous burst of love from the crowd, Courtney Love, 49 years old, looks out into the Phoenix Theater, coyly grins, then visibly swells with gratitude, cocks her head and blows a kiss, serious as a heart attack.
You know how you see a band that’s famous for being sloppy, or mad at each other, or too drunk, but then there’s the one night they’re super tight, or just happy, or sober, and it’s like “THIS is what this band always could be but now finally, gloriously is“? That was Courtney Love last night at the Phoenix, accepting three bouquets of roses when she hit the stage, opening the set with “Plump,” screaming the lines “IT MAKES ME SICK” like the screech of a malfunctioning tractor and, at the end of the song, looking down at the monitor and telling the soundman: “I just blew a speaker.”
Acknowledging the smallish crowd early in the set, Love said, “There’s not very many of us, so gather in close. This is a weird little tour we’re doing. We’re just trying to get tight… Trying to get tight doing our Kegel exercises. I’m doing mine right now.” She stepped back, struck a pose, apparently doing some Kegels, and then instructed all the girls in attendance (and one seven-foot guy in drag up front) to do their Kegels, too. That was the only moment when it seemed the show could veer into embarrassing territory, but then Love went into “Pacific Coast Highway,” and it sounded perfect.
Over the course of an hour and fifteen minutes, Courtney Love smoked four or five cigarettes, drank two Crystal Geysers, and sang the shit out of 17 classic Hole songs. So yeah, she was good. Disappointing in a way, isn’t it? I mean, don’t you think that for a lot of the 400 or so people who came out to the Phoenix Theater last night, there was at least a sliver of desire to see a trainwreck? To be witness to one of Courtney Love’s famous meltdowns? To see her rip off her clothes and flash her panties and kick someone in the face and then throw up? Something like that?
Instead, Courtney Love put on a solid, formidable show that evoked a weird sense of relief, dare I say pride. But this is what she was meant to do, this L.A. Sunset Strip decadent rock, this more-tortured, more-fucked up Stevie Nicks thing. I don’t know. It was really, really good. I was surprised.
Skinny Little Bitch
Pacific Coast Highway
Letter to God
Pretty on the Inside
Asking for It
Use Once and Destroy
Reasons to be Beautiful