By now, I'm sure you've heard, or read, or thought, "Oh no he didn't," then giggled over the honesty about the cuckoo bananas explosion that was the Hole show here at the 930 Club on Sunday. David Malitz for the Washington Post hit all the bases of crazy that were run that night; it was a rather spectacular meltdown. Hitting the stage almost a full hour past the scheduled start time, something that rarely happens at the 930, Love apologized to the crowd saying, "Sorry, I was hanging with a friend who is a senator and he can't be photographed with me in public..." Then she said something about how if folks were hoping for her Boston set list, they would be disappointed; "You're getting the Bruce Springsteen set, sorry."
Now, Springsteen does rehearsal shows that folks pay a lot to see, and they're fun and different. Springsteen does marathon shows that run 3-hours. In Europe recently, a Hole "Springsteen set" occurred and was a solid and amazing show according to a friend who attended; but Sunday, "Springsteen set" meant "a 3-hour slow-motion rehearsal show for a car crash."
There are various guesses flying around as to why Love was acting so out of it: drink, drugs, brain damage, insanity... And I've also heard a ton of people saying, "Well, how could you go expecting to see anything else, it's Courtney Love." And they might be right. Love is like a walking Murphy's Law in her personal life it seems, a continual reporting of "Hello deep end my old friend."
I initially thought my take on this show would be along the same lines of the many other negative reviews, given the number of times the phrase "train wreck" showed up in my notes. And then I got thinking about what I saw during Hole's set at the SXSW Spin Day Party set this year. At that show, Love was solid. Funny. "There" if you will, mentally. You could see the potential in terms of her band, which is pretty amazing by the way, and between her with her band, because they played so well together; it wasn't them acting as just her backup band, as it seemed on Sunday. She didn't have to have her handler come onstage in Austin to turn up her guitar knobs because she didn't seem capable, nor did her guitar hang as decoration around her neck while her keyboardist tore up the rhythm-guitar parts that I'm pretty sure she was supposed to be playing. When comparing the Austin show to the DC one, the difference was night and day. "Tonight is just...weird," someone with the band told me before I left on Sunday, "They've been really solid up to now, but tonight...I'm not sure what's going on." Had I not seen the set in Austin with my own eyes, I'd probably be questioning his definition of the word "solid" and writing a much harsher review now.
But who knows what Sunday was all about. Say what you will, but the new record, Nobody's Daughter is a good record, and Live Through This is truly a kick ass record. And maybe she didn't write the songs necessarily for LTT, as some proclaim, but words of a song are just words until someone sings them and makes them come alive.
"Violet" is one rage-fueled effing song that wouldn't blow the doors off if it were in the hands of someone else (though this was not so much the case Sunday night as the crowd sang most of the song. By the way, a fun fact she told us about that song: "I was in Chicago; Billy Pumpkin gave me a Vicodin, and I wrote this song." Maybe that explains the sky being made of amethyst?). Love still has a great raspy rock yell that can still make your nervous system go bonkers.
Love's got something that people gravitate towards though...how else could she pull off some of the stuff she's done over the past bunch of years? Sure she's scrappy, but you can't get by on that all of your career necessarily. Nobody's Daughter is the first Hole record in 12 years-for as many times as she turned the mic around for the crowd to sing because she didn't know lyrics (or whatever) Sunday night, there were just as many shouts of "Courtney, I love you!" from the crowd. And just as many people are defending her in the comments of the negative reviews of the show.
Would I want to be friends with her? Hell no (she kinda scares me to be honest). Would I want her as my neighbor? No, nor would I want her to ever sit for my dog, let alone my kids. Was it obnoxious that she put some woman "filming" her with an iPhone onstage-not a proper camcorder or anything but an effing iPhone- which she played to instead of her fans, not to mention making the woman block the view of said fans who paid $45 a ticket? Hell yeah it was...
But that aside, I know what I saw in Austin, which wasn't what I saw on Sunday at the 930. There was one song that that band did, start to finish, on Sunday called "Letter to God" off the new record that was really beautiful. One of the lines goes, "I lie awake conducting this symphony/That You have gifted to me but I can't ever sleep/Don't be mad but I get weak inside/And I start to fall apart 'cause I feel nothing." What was displayed Sunday on the 930's stage was many things, one of which may just have been a very public view into the demons with which Love still struggles. But she's still swinging, she's still trying...Maybe the way she goes about it sometimes isn't the greatest, but I, for one, have to give her props for that.