Gig review: Courtney Love

Courtney Love rolled back the years and gave Glasgow a night to remember. Picture: Getty Images

Courtney Love rolled back the years and gave Glasgow a night to remember. Picture: Getty Images

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“F*** you Shawn, it’s 90s night,” wailed Courtney Love in the direction of her bassist, Shawn Dailey.

Courtney Love - Academy, Glasgow

***

One of the less edifying traits she seems to have perfected during her career is taking an imagined slight from one of her sidemen and extending it into a jokey whine about how they’re so mean to her as they stand mute and off-mic.

Amidst a show which was musically little more than one-note but multi-faceted in its revelation of Love’s various performing personae, these short but woeful interruptions were the least enjoyable segments, all the more so given the raw fury her voice is capable of.

She was right, though, it was 90s night, because by far the most well-excavated part of her career was the Hole era from that decade, when her band was at the forefront of the Riot Grrl movement and she was thrust into an unenviable position as the widow of Kurt Cobain, the biggest genuine rock star on the planet.

As always with an artist known for their fiery youth who finds themselves on the verge of their 50th birthday, however, it becomes harder for a spectator to bridge the gap in their mind between what they were and what they are.

This show, it must be said, seemed to show Love being unashamedly herself, and there was good and bad in that. Things struggled to get going in the early stages, not helped by a non-capacity crowd in a venue which is at its best when full, and Love didn’t pretend to be delighted by the turnout.

She growled through the mid-paced grunge of Honey and Malibu, and Hole’s fitting cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Gold Dust Woman, and a sense of excitement struggled to make itself known.

“I’m f***ing tired,” she moaned once more. “Last time I was here I did four Springsteen-style hours.” Ninety minutes was our lot here.

Yet it was one of those shows which came into its own as interest levels rose on both sides of the stage, first with the more strident churn of Rockstar, and then with her barked-out declaration that Letter to God was for “every junkie, misfit, on benefits, on the dole chav out there.”

The adversity of having her show not quite click at first seemed to fuel her, and the home straight was much more satisfying, including the raw primal shriek of Asking For It (“if you live through this with me / I swear that I will die for you” is a gold-plated classic lyric), and the unashamedly 90s anthemics of Doll Parts and Celebrity Skin.

Seen on 15.05.14

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