Review: The Seattle Times

The Hole Story — Courtney Love Fulfilled Her Image: Rude, Profane, Sad and Tender
November 15, 1994, by Tom Phalen

Hole with Veruca Salt and Maggie Estep & I Love Everybody, last night at the Moore Theatre.

Only Courtney Love could get away with the performance she gave last night.

She was at once brash, audacious, rude, profane, funny, tender, weary, sad and ultimately affecting, and that was just her between-song asides. When she and her band Hole played, it was hardcore punk and passion, rage and fury tempered only slightly by the tracks of Love’s tears and her black sense of humor.

She was in charge from the moment she walked out, tossing her coat on a pile of dolls, stuffed bears and toys that littered the stage, pulling hard on a cigarette and then kicking a television cameraman out of the house.

“We can’t play with a TV camera on,” she said, “get that thing out of here.” That done, she strapped on her guitar and pounded into the cannibalistic grinder “Plump.”

She was the embodiment of confidence, whether she was riding a wound-up rocker like “Jennifer’s Body” or trying to navigate the too-close-to-home “My Beautiful Son.” Kurt Cobain was never mentioned by name, but his presence was none-the-less felt.

The only time Love even referred to him was after she got done explaining to the women in the audience how to play “cheater chords” in case they ever wanted to start a rock band. “Hey, I still can’t play but I was in ‘Guitar World’ magazine once,” she declared. “They said I was somebody’s wife.”

And when the audience didn’t react as enthusiastically as she thought they should, Love chided them.

“You’re the quietest audience we’ve ever had,” she said. “What’s your problem? This is like playing to ‘A Current Affair.’ ” When that didn’t get a rise, she led them in a cheer involving one of the words not normally printed in a family newspaper.

“There now, don’t you feel better?”

Oddly enough, it seemed they did. After the swear-along, the house was never quiet again.

It also helped that Love built the set the way she did. It was a continuous rise, it never faltered. Even slightly quieter songs like “Miss World” were driven. And every now and then Love would pull out a left-field surprise.

“Let’s do that Duran Duran song,” she grinned and the band went into a low, ugly take on “Hungry Like a Wolf.” She couldn’t quite do the whole piece, however, and segued midstream into “Pretty on the Inside,” the title tune of Hole’s first acidic album.

But the last section of the show, including the encore, was brutal and brilliant. “Credit in the Straight World” was a screamer. Afterward, Love told how the song’s author (Stuart Moxham) hated Hole’s version of the song. “He says it’s like pornographic Led Zeppelin. I don’t see anything wrong with that.”

Then there was the angry surrender of “Teenage Whore,” and the ominous “Doll Parts.” “Shut up!” she said to her noodling band mates as she started the song. “We’re getting sensitive.” The encore included “She Walks on Me” and the pattern-breaking “Rock Star.”

Love ended by doing a dive into the audience, which surfed her around and returned her to the stage as limp as a rag doll. Courtney Love, rock-‘n’-roll rag doll, wished the house a “Nighty-nighty-nighty-night” and was gone.