Review: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Love Outshone By Her Band
October 5, 1994, by Tony Norman

Fragility. Arrogance. Fatalism. Outrage. Courtney Love displayed enough moods during Hole’s sold-out performance at Metropol last night to qualify as this decade’s version of a lava lamp.

Opening the show with an excruciating rendition of ”Plump,” Love screeched her way into the audience’s affection early on with the world’s angriest song about breast feeding — a little ditty from Hole’s appropriately named sophomore album effort, ”Live Through This.”

Unfortunately, Love’s enthusiastic raggedness couldn’t keep pace with her band’s genuinely inspired playing; the show drifted into messy little vignettes instead of holding together like an organic piece.

Love’s quite-limited voice reached as far as it could before collapsing on itself in a pathetic, swirling wail that nonetheless managed to keep most of the audience entertained.

Hole did itself and the more conventional-minded folks in the crowd a favor by segueing into the very popular ”Miss World” three songs into the set, a move that rendered anticlimactic every song thereafter.

Still, Love felt it necessary to establish her credentials with a crowd that seemed composed of as many gawkers as fans of the quartet’s music.

Of course, there were obligatory references to her late husband, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, who killed himself last spring. At one point, Love and the band attempted a couple of verses of an obscure Nirvana song before she aborted it.

”Yeah, this is a really bad song Kurt wrote once,” she said before moving on to her own material. It was a sad moment, but there was an element in the audience that managed to cheer even that.

”Pretty on the Inside” and ”Credit in the Straight World” were the show’s highlights, with horrible versions of ”Rock Star” and ”I Think That I Would Die” dragging things down to a depressing level.

Wildly uneven and — objectively speaking — terrible most of the time, Courtney Love managed to remain a fascinating figure despite her premature jump into the spotlight with this tour. Ironically, her lack of stage savvy makes her sympathetic, if not easy to watch, as far as her audience is concerned.

But if it weren’t for her tragic link to Cobain and the Nirvana legend, I wonder how big the turnout would have been.

There was an ugly incident or two involving audience knuckleheads who tried to touch her. She interrupted one song to attack one such man. At the end of the show, she jumped into the audience and was once again manhandled, she said.

After throwing doll parts to the audience and then flipping them an obscene salute, she stormed offstage, muttering some none-too-pleasant things about Pittsburgh. It was one of those low points that will surely pass into legend.