Friday, 19 February 2010

Live: Hole at Shepherd's Bush Empire

The last time I saw Courtney Love was at the Reading Festival straight after Kurt died. I was 14 years old. 14! I’m now twice that (and more!) Obviously, that gig is infamous for being a shambles. But I still remember how I felt just being near to her; just seeing her there was amazing to me, no matter how bad she was (and she looked amazing). That was the summer I grew up, lost my virginity, and had a gang of friends I thought would last forever. I spent the next two years running round in a nightie and a tiara starting fights. Courtney was a massive influence on me as a girl, and as woman.
Around the turn of the millennium, I used to frequent an imaginary place called kittyradio, where Hole fans went to… er, tear the shit our of each other’s personal lives/ appearance/ taste in men. Weirdly, I also met some of my best friends, who I still make an effort to see (which is rare for me) ten years later.
The next time I saw Courtney was at the filming of the Russell Brand TV show, and I was sat so close to her, I could have touched her. I could see right up her skirt! And still I was in awe! Morrissey was in the same room but I was still drawn to Courtney. Her flaws, the things that people hate her for, are the things that make her special.
But I had very low hopes of Courtney showing up when I booked the tickets for Shepherd’s Bush. My hopes were raised a little when I saw her on Jonathan Ross, looking puffy but healthy, and again on the Brits. And she didn’t let us down.
Got to Shpherd's Bush quite late due to the Central Line being royally fucked. Bumped into a fair few kittyradioers; all knocking on 30 now, but still looking good, I must say. Shepherd’s Bush Empire was absolutely HEAVING, you could not move, and the queue for the toilets was beyond a joke.
The support band I saw (I think there were two) were absolutely dreadful; I thought Morrissey’s support bands could be bad but this was something else. The guy gobbed on the crowd, wich makes it sound quite rock and roll; it was anything but. Really dire.
I have to say, a large majority of the crowd were really awful, Morrissey crowds can often be filled with inconsiderate oiks, but this was worse; seedy old men, men who were 8 foot tall, people who actually stank… it was really bad. The last band I went to see were Placebo, and the crowd were all really small, polite lesbians, so this was a bit of a shock. When Courtney came on the guy in front of us (a prick with Jedward hair) literally took up about a square mile around us to headbang in. At that point we moved back, but the view was really poor. Eventually I moved further back and could see, but I was pretty pissed off, which was really annoying.
The irony was, Courtney was on top form tonight. She kept us waiting for a while and then opened with Pretty on the Inside! How cool is that? The setlist was amazing; Violet, Miss World, Malibu, Pacific Coast Highway, Celebrity Skin… she even pulled out Northern Star. I would have killed for Boys on The Radio though, as it’s my favourite Hole song ever, but that’s my only grumble. I think my highlights were Pacific Coast Highway and Celebrity Skin; just because I am so used to hearing Celebrity Skin at every dingy indie disco I've frequented over the past few years, so to see it live seemed surreal.
Let’s get the ‘Hole’ thing cleared up. Yes, her new band look rather rubbish. Yes, Melissa and Eric and Patty were pretty cool. But what makes Hole is Courtney, her lyrics, her songs, her life. Would you go see a band named Hole if Eric and Melissa got a new lead singer? No, you wouldn’t. So, personally, I’m just glad she’s still doing those songs, because they are her legacy. And the crowd, as horrible and ugly as a lot of them were, knew every word. I was surprised there were so many men there; and surprised that people were singing their heart out. In normal life if you mention Courtney Love, people go ‘urgh’, so this felt really interesting. I didn’t think people cared for these songs so much.
She didn’t talk much but I remember her saying ‘not bad for an old girl’ and ‘I’m still alive’. She looked great; and seemed to be really enjoying herself. She definitely forgot the words a few times, and it seemed to me like they played completely the wrong tune to Malibu..?! Her voice went at the end, but I’m not surprised, as she really has to belt those songs. I’ll always love her voice; the flaws in it are just divine.
I think her new material sounds really good. I’ve been hammering the demos for about 2 years now; so I really hope her album does see the light of day soon because we’ve waited long enough!
I wish I could see her again a bit closer; I saw Bright Eyes at Shepherds Bush Empire a couple of years ago and had a great view; so I think I just got unlucky.
Say what you like about Courtney, but she survives, she just keeps on going. She’s also highly under-rated as a song-writer and a lyricist. No woman from her era that I can think of is still going like she is, or is still interesting, anyway.
And at that exact moment I wrote that, the computer a couple of desks away from me just started playing Nirvana out loud in an open plan office… even though no one is near it…! Weirdness! The ghost of Kurt! Get back in your box, Kurt. You’re done.


John H. said...

"No woman from her era that I can think of is still going like she is, or is still interesting, anyway. "

PJ Harvey and Bjork. Have both actually released albums and stuff.

lightupvirginmary said...

Yeah but I meant more the seattle scene than that moment in time, although i didn't express it very well. PJ Harvey never meant anything to me; although I know she's a good artist. I love Bjork, and she's a genius, she doesn't inspire the same sort of rabid devotion in my heart.

Unknown said...

Well I did tell you to come to the right side of the stage where I was! I had no problems with the crowd at all there, everyone was having a great time, there was even a Kurt lookalike adding to the nostalgia!

Btw, Linda Perry was playing keyboards in the first band. And I thought the singer of the second band was a woman til halfway through the set! He looked like Patti Smith.

And yeah, after the gig I was so over the whole "where's Eric" gripe. This incarnation really worked out. I hate Micko but at least he stayed in the shadows with the rest of the "Sleeperblokes". Britpop reference there, I'm on a nostalgia roll!


coxon le woof said...

Good to hear you enjoyed it. I thought she (and the new ) song sounded pretty damn good on Jonathan Ross the other week. Hearing that and reading your review means I'm far more excited at the prospect of a new record than I was.

Ossian said...

some bastard city twat in a fat suit pushed me in the back at the bob dylan roundhouse gig on his way through where he wanted to get. i swear i was within an atom of starting going for him. i still want to kick that fucker and break my shoe off in his ass. what is the point of these events when nobody can hear right and nobody can see right. i won't be going to any more of them. life is too short.