Love's life

Courtney and Hole stake their claim
By MICHAEL MAROTTA  |  June 30, 2010


PHOTOS:Courtney Love at WFNX Ames session, by Melissa Ostrow

PHOTOS:Hole, live at the House of Blues, by Kelsey Marie Bell

Three hours late, Courtney Love stormed into the Ames Hotel on Court Street a week ago Wednesday, faced a small group of radio-station contest winners, and explained that her tardiness was the result of a mid-day romp in the sack with an ex-boyfriend who's now a professor at Harvard University.

The room ate it up. But at the end of the short, full-band acoustic session, Love admitted she'd been joking about the Harvard shag — it just sounded like a good excuse for being late. The fans seemed almost let down.

The brief interaction, which preceded a gig by Love's band Hole that night at the House of Blues, sums up this new era of the well-put-together complete train wreck that is Courtney Love: there is build-up, there is elation, there is disappointment, there is payoff. Both of Hole's performances — the acoustically restrained rage at the Ames and the full-on grunge blowout on Lansdowne — were riveting. And against the backdrop of the not-half-bad new album, Nobody's Daughter (Mercury), and a much-talked-about-around-the-Interwebs VH1 Behind the Music special on Love's life, it's clear that the woman who in the '90s went from Kurt Cobain's drugged-out widow to Golden Globe–nominated actress (The People vs. Larry Flint) is on the comeback trail.

But the question remains: are we ready for a Courtney Love revival? And do we necessarily want one?

Now 45 years old, Love claims to be five years clean. She still has a black cloud hovering overhead, however, and now it appears that drugs have given way to real-life adult issues, like finances and what she calls "money karma." At the Ames, a simple question about songwriting spurred a diatribe about her money situation, bank loans, and legal problems — all of which is detailed toward the end of the VH1 special.

Love was down with the first half of the 90-minute biography, which documented her troubled early years and her eventual romance with Cobain as she found her musical way. She took issue (no surprise) with VH1's portrayal of her after Cobain's suicide as an endless string of drug abuse, hostility, and failures. Yet anyone who was alive and casually following Love's trials and tribulations through the second half of the '90s knows that the portrait wasn't far off the mark.

"The first hour was fine; the second could have done so much more, editorially," she said at the Ames. "It had great ratings, and they want to show it again and again, and I said no fucking way. It's aimless."

After her stop in Boston, Love threatened to go to VH1's headquarters in New York to do some re-editing. At the House of Blues, she made the same threat, and she warned the crowd that if you want anything done right, you have to do it yourself. There was a sparkle in her eye, however, when she noted — both at the Ames and at the House of Blues — the show's glowing ratings and buzz.

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