Review: The Columbus Dispatch

Love Didn’t Look or Perform Like a Victim
October 15, 1994, by Bill Eichenberger

The ambulance chasers, if there were any last night in the Newport Music Hall, didn’t get much of a show for their buck.

By now even folks with only a passing interest in rock ‘n’ roll have heard tell of Courtney Love’s recent exploits fronting her band, Hole; have heard about the confrontations with audience members and about her brazen behavior on stage.

For those unfamiliar with Love, she is, among other things, the widow of grunge-rock star Kurt Cobain. And she was supposed to disintegrate before our very eyes.

Instead, Love walked casually on stage at 10:20 p.m. and launched into a searing, propulsive, twist-and-tug number that prompted nearly 1,000 fans in the mosh-pit to bounce with glee.

Funny thing, she didn’t look or sound like the victim some had come to bury. During each song, she’d step to the microphone and prop her left leg defiantly on a floor monitor, her short skirt riding up her thigh. Then she would lean forward and expel vocals, her band roaring behind her.

”Blame it all on me,” she screamed a few minutes into the band’s set, sounding for all the world like someone for whom blame was utterly inconsequential. Between songs she puffed furiously on cigarettes and chatted about this and that (”I went to Las Vegas once and married a transvestite,” she said). It was as if she was daring someone to say something, anything, stupid about Cobain.

No one did. Or, if they did, Love took it out on them by upping the intensity of the music, by pushing songs with an urgent wail without ever losing, at least not completely, the melody.

Mayhem did, however, break out during the encore. Love dived from the stage into the audience and had her dress ripped off. She played one more song wearing a borrowed sweater.

Hole’s major-label debut, Live Through This, was surprisingly dynamic and varied. Love didn’t sacrifice that variety one bit and still managed to bring on the noise. Impressive.