Photos (c) Louise Brady
The band come to a halt and an overly excited fan lets out a murderous scream. Courtney responds beautifully with not so much a scream, but a howl which nearly takes off the roof off the Academy. I’m left astonished…
If I’m going to be honest — and honesty is supposedly the best policy — I attended Courtney Love not because I had any particular passion for her music, but rather out of curiosity. I was intrigued with her chaotic background and ‘jaded rock’ reputation, where she often ran into problems with drugs and alcohol (as with all the greats) and of course got to touch Kurt Cobain; and without sounding like a total sleaze; I realised this was the closest I was going to get.
I feel ‘heavy’ is the appropriate word for the atmosphere tonight. The crowd is mainly comprised of overly sun-kissed, peroxided ex-housewives and angst-riddled teens sporting various band t-shirts; lots of leather, safety pins in ears and don’t-f**k-with-me eyes — and although it seems a little cliché, you’ve got to admire the efforts of the true Courtney fans.
I edge myself into a safe, empty, little corner and with a surprisingly good view I await the mistress whom the crowd seem so anxious to feast their eyes on. After a short serenade of brass instruments, fit enough to welcome the queen, she appears wearing a rather daring black mesh jumpsuit humbly bought from Topshop (for sixteen pounds she quotes) equipped with a generous heap of ‘just got out of bed’ platinum blonde hair, which seems to perfectly fall upon her jagged-sharp cheekbones and compliment her plump, attitude-filled, rosy pout. For a woman in her fifties she’s looking pretty fit, despite the obvious cosmetic help along the way I would say she resembles a slightly morphed version of Debbie Harry mixed with Cher, which is intended as a compliment.
The opening track of the evening, ‘Wedding Day’, lures us in with stand-alone, muted, distorted guitar whilst Courtney overpowers it with a rich, grainy, too-many-cigarettes vocal tone. “Break my neck on my wedding day” she groans with a stumble as she exposes her bare thigh placed high on the monitor, lipstick half smeared. She’s got a guitar I notice, but doesn’t appear to be playing it, or at least not in time, although I’m sure the crowd are too distracted by the see-through mesh covering her ‘all American’ busty chest to notice. After a rather raunchy thrash version of Stevie Nicks’ ‘Gold Dust Woman’, the band come to a halt and an overly excited fan lets out a murderous scream. Courtney responds beautifully with not so much a scream, but a howl which nearly takes off the roof off the Academy. I’m left astonished and almost jealous of the power of her lungs, which are almost inhuman.
With this being her first large international tour in a while most would expect her to showcase newer material in support of the upcoming LP, but it seems most of the set comprises of material taken from her previous, critically-acclaimed grunge outfit, Hole. Standouts include ‘Plump’, ‘Violet’ and ‘Northern Star’. I sense this is pleasing to the audience as looking around there’s some serious sing-along action, clearly familiar with the material. It’s quite comical to me the desperation and emotion these fans seem to exude as they cling to their loved ones or the banisters, but this is not enough for Courtney as she suddenly seems peeved and stands cross armed with her eyes like slits. “You guys are so f**king subdued. Like, who is this girl, you over there!” she says, pointing. “All laid back giving me the death stare. ‘Oh there’s Courtney; she’s kind of fat” spoken in her best attempt at an English accent. “It’s like being back at fucking high school!” For me this is the highlight of the evening and was exactly what I was waiting for.
After her little tizzy the band continue with another Hole number ‘Skinny Little Bitch’ a personal favourite of mine, with the larger than life grungey guitars and lyrics being a particular highlight — “In my vile sex horror and my cheap drug hell, you staggered here on broken glass, so I could kick your scrawny ass.”
This evening was everything I was expecting; vulgar and intrusive, although I did feel it felt a little contrived at times. In respect to Courtney; she put on a good show — all eighty minutes of it — and it’s safe to say the girl’s still got it.
Check out ‘You Know My Name’ right here: