I don’t think Courtney Love is as unstable as she appears (at least not any more), but it’s hard to tell. More model/actress than hooker/waitress these days, she still managed an on-stage tantrum at this show, though it didn’t amount to much. Like Everclear, she gave props to Iggy Pop, noting “I’m playing after Iggy? That’s not fair!” in a radio interview a few days before the show. Also like Everclear, she was targeted by beer-tossers, but she had a little different way of handling it.
Before they took the stage, some classic and appropriate Alice Cooper (“I’m Eighteen,” “School’s Out, “Elected”) revved the crowd into a pushing, moshing animal. Once the band started, bodies were really flying over the barricade as the mosh pit vortex became too much to handle. But for all the enthusiasm, it seemed like folks weren’t paying attention or reacting to anything except the music.
Their previous disc, Live Through This , was recorded here, and Courtney tried to connect with the crowd (“We wrote this song in Atlanta… are you listening? We WROTE this song here!”). Nobody seemed to care much one way or the other, but they were having a great time anyway. A few lines from REM’s “Pretty Persuasion” got scattered applause, I’m guessing most in the crowd were too young to recognize it. A full version of Guns and Roses’ “Paradise City” got a much bigger reaction.
It must be frustrating to be one of the other members of Hole; after all, isn’t it more like the “Courtney Love Experience” to most people? During one of her semi-rambling monologues, guitarist Eric Erlandson tried to noodle her back to the business at hand with a few background riffs, with little success. But when they stayed on-task, the songs were great and Love is a tremendous performer — playing to the video camera that was projecting her image 40 feet high, she was able to engage even the drunkest and most distant audience members.
At the end was a touch of the loose cannon Courtney that people know and love to hate. She was singing and playing solo when someone hit her with a cup of beer — she stopped the show for 10 self-absorbed minutes and threaten to kick the guy’s ass, finally goading the alleged hurler to the front of the stage, where they both seemed to chicken out from the promised beating. After resolving the issue without having to prove her manhood, she finished the song, and ended the show by giving her guitar to a girl in the audience.
I think the songs on Celebrity Skin aren’t so much about Ms. Love, but about the character people have come to expect of her. It must be draining to play to a semi-ignorant crowd, enduring reminders of her past excesses and the dorks who yell “show us your tits!” The wilder character makes a better show, and I guess all she can do is give the people what they want.