Love's life

By MICHAEL MAROTTA  |  June 30, 2010

Love knows people will watch. She's keenly aware of her surroundings at all times. At the Ames, she stopped mid thought to ask a female reporter from the Herald to identify herself as a member of the press.

"Don't print my 'pass list,' " she warned the reporter after running through a laundry list of Hollywood big-budget films she claims she turned down in the late '90s. "Except passing up The Matrix to record Celebrity Skin, because everybody knows that."

After the session, when that same reporter approached her, Love asked about the paper's political leanings and whether the interview was for some type of page 6 gossip column. (It was.) After politely answering the reporter's nonsensical question, she turned away, giving an overzealous fan the opportunity to get in the face of the Herald scribe and protest, "She's had a tough life, you don't know what's she's been through!"

Fans still adore Love, and she knows it. She's charming without trying, sincere just by appearing. There's a magnetic charm about her, and in a world of Lady Gaga and her countless imitators, an ass-kicking, rocking-out Courtney Love might be what music truly needs. As pop music has taught us in the past 15 years, her kind of charisma can't be created.

On stage, page 6 became irrelevant: Hole were both a time bomb and a time machine. Transporting the crowd back to the '90s — and it was a two-thirds-full House of Blues decked in cargo shorts, band T-shirts, and ball-chain necklaces eager to revisit the period — the opening grunge crunch of a "Pretty on the Inside"/"Sympathy for the Devil" medley proved that the band still have balls. Walking out on stage and singing an off-key blip of the Standelles' "Dirty Water" while puffing on a Marlboro Light doesn't hurt in warming the crowd up either.

But as the band spanned their gritty catalogue and showed that the weighty-pop '90s hits "Doll Parts," "Violet," "Malibu," and "Celebrity Skin" still hold up quite well in a fragmented era of rock, you couldn't escape the feeling that Love could stop the affable nice-girl routine on a dime and jump into the crowd throwing 'bows. More than a few heads probably stayed for the duration of Wednesday's 95-minute set just to see her explode, to catch a meltdown that would be on YouTube by the time the last person left Lansdowne.

At one point, an object was tossed on stage, just missing Love, who didn't notice it. One can imagine what would have gone down had it smacked her in the face mid song. But no such hostile interruption took place, and the show hit a high point during new single "Pacific Coast Highway," which sounds an awful lot like 1998 radio hit "Malibu." That Belinda Carlisle–aided ditty remains Hole's highest Billboard charter, at #24.

"I wrote it for Stevie Nicks as well — and didn't give it to her as well," Love said at the Ames.

A Doc Martens boot full of covers, the band also paid sonic tribute to Leonard Cohen, Judy Garland, and of course, Fleetwood Mac. (Hole's cover of "Gold Dust Woman" was first released on the Crow 2: City of Angels soundtrack.) A cover of "Closer" was the sexiest rendition of the Nine Inch Nails classic since Trent Reznor first thought up the savage chorus.

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