Judging by the ticket sales, Courtney Love was clearly taking a gamble with her her first solo tour of Australia. As it turns out, Adelaide decided not to even take a punt. There really is no excuse that Adelaidians could make that would justify their lack of effort. Tickets were originally sold for around $80, but were discounted at the last minute, and the gig was on a Friday night. so I was surprised when I walked in to the venue right as the support band was finishing their set, and found Thebarton Theatre was about three-quarters empty, or possibly a quarter full, depending on how you look at it.
Courtney Love walked on stage to the screams of the small but enthusiastic crowd and kicked off the night with her new song “Wedding Day”, a double A-side with “You Know My Name”.
Love demands, and deserves respect; at 50 years old she is still the absolute essence of a female rock star. Dressed in black lace, a tiny skirt and thigh-high boots, from where I was standing I swear it could have been the same Love I saw play with her band Hole at the Adelaide Big Day Out in 1999. That BDO was the famous ‘Australian bug’ bite incident which led to Love leaving the stage early.
Love is not known for being shy, and she definitely doesn’t mince her words. The crowd paid witness to a spirited outburst after a moronic member of the audience hurled a beer can at the stage “In 20 years no-ones thrown a beer can at me except for you f***er” she yelled. After a few more songs were belted out, she was still seething. “I’ll take you out back. I can beat you as good as any Australian. Do not do that again!” she said, like a teacher telling off a rowdy classroom, “The rest of you are excused,” she added with a sly grin.
Getting back to the music which was, hopefully, the reason we were all there – I was pleased to be able to see Love perform plenty of tracks off Holes iconic second album, Live Through This, including “Miss World”, “Plump”, “Violet”, “Jennifer’s body”, “Softer, Softest” and “Asking for It”.
Love stood, with one leg up on an amp, holding her Rickenbaker in a rather intimate way, looking all at once sexy and tough-as-nails. Love was engaging the audience, despite the previous altercations. Strangely Love neglected to include any of the songs off of her 2004 solo album America’s Sweetheart in the set list but we were treated to some real crowd-pleasers such as “Malibu”, “Reasons to be Beautiful” were next up, both off Hole‘s 1998 mainstream success Celebrity Skin.
After an energetic and entertaining set, the band and Love exited the stage only for the crowd to be informed that she would be back in a just a moment, with a “surprise” for us. This surprise was a costume change and a bunch of red roses which Love threw one by one into the crowd. The encore consisted of a sublime, emotive acoustic versions of “Northern Star” followed by “Petals”. Finally, to finish off the night, Love broke out “Doll Parts”, and I realised that I had just seen one hell of a gig from one of the icons of my youth and I feel sorry for any fans who didn’t make it to the gig. Maybe next time, guys?
Courtney Love is currently touring nationally.