Review: The Chicago Sun-Times

With Pounding Energy, Love Conquers All
October 23, 1994, by Jim DeRogatis

Courtney Love is one of those rare rock ‘n’ rollers who seems to make news every time she opens her mouth or steps onstage.

Love is slowly distancing herself from the tragedies of early 1994 — the deaths of her husband, Nirvana leader Kurt Cobain, and her bassist, Kristen Pfaff. These days, she’s primarily making headlines with her band, Hole.

Earlier this month, Love got involved in a dramatic scuffle with a fan. There was nothing as violent during Hole’s sold-out show at Metro on Friday, but it was impossible to take your eyes off Love for a second.

Like Johnny Thunders and Sid Vicious before her, Love is riveting because you get the sense she could spin out of control at any moment. Her between-song banter at Metro was weird and edgy, full of harshly worded insults to the crowd and in-jokes even her bandmates didn’t seem to get.

But unlike punk rockers Thunders and Vicious — both of whom wound up dead — Love is completely in control. With a quick toss of her blonde locks, she leads her band into tight versions of her punk-pop anthems. Her vocals are spot-on, and her guitar playing is furious but restrained.

If Love was really as messed up as she’d have us believe, she’d never be able to pull off shows as powerful as those that Hole routinely delivers.

Twice as long as a recent appearance at the UIC Pavilion, Hole’s show on Friday featured a handful of aggressive new tunes, including one co-written by Love and Cobain. Love, drummer Patty Schemel, guitarist Eric Erlandson and new bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur also drew heavily from the band’s two albums.

When Hole returned to the stage for a well-deserved encore, Love had stripped out of her black party dress down to a slip. After four hard-hitting songs, she jumped into the crowd in her trademark goodbye gesture.

By the time she made it back to the stage, fans had ripped off her slip. Standing in just her bra and panties, Love was cooler than ever.

“Damn, that was my favorite slip,” she cracked.