Review: VH1

Hole Gets Up Close and Personal With Fans
May 19, 1999, by Frank Tortorici

Singer Courtney Love pulls dozens of concert-goers onstage to join the band.

NEW YORK — Courtney Love and her band, Hole, had many special guests onstage here Tuesday.

But they were not musicians or even celebrities. They were fans.

Near the beginning of Hole’s show at the Roseland Ballroom –a show that opened a two-night stand– Love started grabbing fans from the front row and hoisting them onstage, where they remained throughout the set. She continued bringing up fans, mostly women, after almost every song; by the end of the night, Hole were surrounded by about 30 grungey Generation X’ers who were singing and dancing along.

Love, dressed in a long, pink dress and angel’s wings, stood on risers at the front of the stage and glared at screaming fans as she spat out her songs, most of which were from Hole’s latest album, Celebrity Skin (1998).

Despite criticism that her performances lacked passion during Hole’s recent tour with shock rocker Marilyn Manson — Hole dropped off the tour after nine dates and soon afterward announced the spring tour that reached New York this week — the statuesque singer looked every inch a confident rock star Tuesday.

“If the world is so wrong, you can fuck them all with one song,” she sang during “Awful,” changing a lyric originally recorded as “you can break them all.” She feverishly strummed her guitar and was flanked by a black-clad Eric Erlandson on guitar and by bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur, who was wearing a green top and black skirt, with high, purple boots and her own set of wings.

Hole opened the set with “Violet” from 1994’s Live Through This, after which Love said to the capacity crowd, “Hi, you jaded f—ing white people.”

Love talked throughout the show, as she instructed security to let fans onstage: “Give me her,” she commanded regally. “Stick her up here … If they’re not insane, let them up.”

Love told the fans who made it to the stage that they were better off than the VIPs in the club’s mezzanine. To the latter, she asked, “Do you f— if you’re on the guest list?”

Vocally, Love alternated between soft, hushed tones, as on the quieter parts of “Miss World,” to out-and-out yelling on such full-tilt rockers as “Pretty on the Inside” and “Use Once and Destroy.” Auf Der Maur provided harmonies.

The group seemed especially loose, breaking into verses of non-Hole songs before beginning their own. Hole performed some of “If I Were a Rich Man” from the vintage Broadway musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” before a raucous “Doll Parts”.

Love said drummer Samantha Maloney is “teaching me about rap 15 years too late. I hate being white. I’m sick of it.” That led into a cover of the Temptations’ 1966 soul hit “Get Ready,” which Maloney kicked off by rapidly pounding the skins.

Love was so comfortable with the crowd that she sang most of the set’s early numbers at the front of the mosh pit. But at one point, she had to push away some over-eager fans and rush back onstage to avoid being dragged further into the pit.

Erlandson opened the encore set by quietly strumming the moody “Northern Star,” which led into a blistering, grungey “She Walks on Me.” To end the show, the band played “Celebrity Skin”, and Love, continuing what has become a Hole tradition, handed a guitar to a female fan.

“[Hole] is the best band I ever saw [in concert],” Robin, a 30-year-old rock musician from Hoboken, N.J., said. After she saw Hole a few years ago at the New York punk club CBGB, “They made me want to start a rock band … and I did,” Robin said.

Judging by the grins on the faces of the fans onstage Tuesday, it’s possible Hole may have inspired a few more people to consider careers in rock.