O2 Academy, Brixton
Hole are one original member ahead of the Sugababes these days, but with that member being grunge gran Courtney Love, who, incidentally, can still whine a husky, trailer hick whine like it’s 1995, it doesn’t seem to hold them back. Or at least not musically.
Courtney is something of a poisoned chalice though – the only reason we’re here and the chief reason to slink off early. Occasionally she’s as eccentrically charming and funny as she plans to be (like when insisting that Bush’s ‘Swallow’ is about her – “What does that tell you?” she eye-rolls), but more often than not her insecurities and need to be loved are only thinly veiled by her potty mouth that spends half of the evening revelling in the ‘F’ word as if she’s a 9-year-old who’s just discovered it, and the other half stamping her feet to remind us that she’s still the boss. She constantly moans that she can’t see the audience because the house lights are down (at a gig? Outrageous!) and there’s an overwhelming sense that we owe her for turning up.
“I need some love!” she says to cheers from the crowd she calls “fucking assholes”… to more cheers. Her keyboard player is even sent out to make us scream louder if we want an encore. After the new not-terrible-but-plain-boring songs, and a cover of The Smiths’ ‘Suffer Little Children’, I’m not sure that I do.
It’s a typical Courtney Love that totters the line of spoilt brat rock star and the embodiment of obnoxious, deluded despair, I guess, but as tragic as the woman on stage is, playing in her underwear for attention and talking about her tits, the real shame is that all of the inter-song bravado detracts from her earliest and best work, which still sounds pretty gnarly when the band finally get around to playing it.
By Stuart Stubbs
Originally published in issue 17 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. May 2010