“Completely Captivating”: COURTNEY’S London 2014 Shows…

Posted: May 16, 2014 in (All Things) CULTURE, MUSIC
Tags: , , , , ,


So with Courtney Love in the UK playing live shows this week, I couldn’t help but keep track of some of the fan reaction (and video and photo shares) of the London dates, having myself been a ticketless pauper at this point. The fans were, it’s fair to say, going gaga, and what I’ve seen of the first show – along with The Guardian and Telegraph reviews – looks great.

I hope it bodes well for the coming album, which will be Courtney’s second solo release (assuming its a solo release at all), a follow-up to America’s Sweetheart almost precisely ten years ago.

In both London dates, the show consisted more or less entirely of Hole songs and not solo work, with the exception of the two new songs (You Know MyName/Wedding Day). While it doesn’t provide any hint as to what new material will sound like, what it did do was rock out the Shepherd’s Bush Empire with a better class of music than it’s probably hosted in a long time in the form of such Hole classics as Malibu, Miss World, Northern Star, Reasons To Be Beautiful, Asking For It, even 20 Years In The Dakota. The second night ended with one of Hole’s absolute best songs Jennifer’s Body from Live Through This – what a way to close a show; find me any tedious stadium band that can close a show with a song as timelessly awesome as that (hint: I don’t think you can).

The Hole-heaviness of these shows so far and the lack of solo material could be construed as giving credence to the abiding Internet rumours of an imminent classic Hole reunion; perhaps, just perhaps, the new material Courtney is working on isn’t for that long-rumoured second solo album but a new Hole release. I for one would be very happy to see a classic Hole reunion, as Courtney’s ‘America’s Sweetheart’ solo release didn’t do much for me and 2010’s Nobody’s Daughter, though it had some really good material, also didn’t sound or feel like a ‘Hole’ release in spirit, only in name.

The current double A-side single (though admittedly that doesn’t mean so much in a digital age) has been released to broadly positive coverage. You Know My Name (not the Chris Cornell song), a welcome return to straight punk, felt like nothing too special on first listen but definitely grows on you, though Wedding Day is a lot better, more expansive and with a killer main riff.

The unfortunate fact, however, that Tommy Lee of all people is drumming for Courtney makes me so queasy it actually puts me off listening to the tracks. I mean, I know ‘grunge’, ‘riot grrl’ and everything else is long over and no one’s an idealist anymore, but Tommy fucking Lee? Is that what it’s come to? Run for the hills, people, this is the end of civilisation, etc.

The accompanying You Know My Name music video directed by Maximilla Lukacs, however, is themed on Courtney as a “Miss Havisham”-type jilted bride abandoned on her wedding day. There’s something very appropriate about that image, its connotations, and Courtney Love, who has been known to describe her own life as “Dickensian”.

Tommy Lee aside (I would be happy not to hear that name associated with proper music again, please), it genuinely brings a smile to my face when I see Courtney getting positive write-ups. I realise it’s probably in the same way a more Alpha male than myself might get happy at his team’s football score, but it’s genuinely gratifying when someone I respect that much as an artist – especially someone who gets so much bad press at other times – is being treated with the appropriate level of respect befitting one of the few great, high-caliber rock songwriters in the world; though in fact Courtney has generally been critically well-regarded for the most part, even when badly spoken of elsewhere. And it’s also gratifying when Courtney Love gets back to the music and leaves everything else to one side (which is something she has recently hinted she is consciously trying to do).

The UK shows, by all accounts, have been awesome. “Completely captivating” was how the Telegraph put it.

On a side note, I’m also chuffed Courtney’s rocking the e-cigarettes; not just because it’s better for her health, but because I made the transition from real cigarettes to e-cigs a couple of years ago and I’ve been waiting for someone else to make it look cooler.

On another side note, watching Courtney appear on BBC Breakfast to promote the tour was a slightly strange experience; she was fine, but those breakfast show appearances always make me wonder what the demographic is that someone like Courtney is thinking of. Those sorts of presenters also never know much about who they’re talking to and I highly doubt they’d know a single song of hers.  I remember watching an embarassing Tori Amos interview on that same show and the presenters kept referencing ‘Cornflake Girl’, clearly because it was the only Tori Amos song they could think of. Tori Amos herself seemed nonplussed and awkward throughout the whole thing. Courtney seemed to handle it a lot better, but even so breakfast television seems a little demeaning for a musician.

In any case, whether it’s with Hole or whether it’s in her own name, and whether the classic Hole line-up reforms or not, it’s just great, just a little bit life-affirming, that in 2014 songs like Violet, Plump and 20 Years in the Dakota are still being played live, still blowing the roofs off and putting irremovable smiles on the faces of devoted fans. Somehow it makes one feel that somehow everything’s gonna be alright in the world… for a little longer at least. I missed out this time around, but thanks to the devoted You Tube uploaders I’ve managed to catch some of the highlights; and I further appeased myself by rewatching videos of Hole at the 1994 Reading Festival (and what a show that was).


On Monday at the Empire, Rock Star (Olympia) was played for “the first time in, like, 20 years”; Courtney is still the best “rock star” we have, even if not the best rock musician necessarily.

Courtney’s UK tour continues until May 22nd. A limited edition (3,000 copies) neon pink 7″ of the You Know My Name/Wedding Day single will be released in the UK on May 26.



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