Review: Zilla Magazine

by Manfred Upnmoor

English Translation


She has learned a lot in the last three and a half years. The staging of the diva Courtney Love is perfect tonight. There is no longer any comparison to the first gigs in Germany, where Hole’s live show was still about the performance of equal band members.



Docks, Hamburg

The stage background is formed by glittering red and silver curtains, the stage itself is subduedly lit, mainly purple and blue, with occasional highlights of red and orange. The band acts solidly rocking in this gloomy dimness, quite lanky as always guitarist Eric Erlandson, on the left the new bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur, who replaces Kristin Pfaff, who died of a heroin overdose.

Eric and Melissa both have an average stage presence in the best sense of the word: not too little, after all this is about rock music, but not too much either, after all everyone here in the hall knows why this concert is taking place today. In the back, optically almost absorbed by the purple and the blue, drummer Patty Schemel plays, and the new rhythm team of her and Melissa has evidently played well together, despite the fact that they haven’t been together that long.

And there, in the center of the stage, lifted out of the inconspicuous, colorful monotony by its own spot throughout the evening, stands the star, the center of attention and action, although she hardly acts at all during the songs, in contrast to her fellow musicians who are relatively enthusiastic about movement. Courtney Love just stands there, casually resting his foot on the monitor box, but not yet resting the guitar on her thigh – that wouldn’t be casual enough – and sings, whispers, screams. And plays with the fantasies of her audience in a short dress. Of course, the foot casually placed on the monitor box and the hem that slides up reveal that the woman of the world wears garter belts today. Looks at what else the hem of the dress is revealing to the front rows, but Miss Love acknowledges it with a stretched middle finger, but that doesn’t change the fact that the foot on the monitor box remains the woman’s pose that dominates the evening and her little game with the fantasies slowly getting an obtrusively impertinent touch.

Speaking of the stretched middle finger: it takes a while for Courtney Love to warm up to the Hamburg audience. The insults with which she considers the not enough frenetic applause for her new bass player are really not made of cardboard. But finally she seems to see that the Northern Lights can’t do anything else, although she still asks “Is it actually normal that the German audience only watches and not rock?”, but over time their mineral water irrigation actions in the front rows lose their aggressiveness. And gradually Ms. Love liked to joke with the audience, hold one of the countless mineral water bottles waiting on the stage in a clear pose in front of her lap at first, and finally say “Want some water?” to the thirsty crowd. The crowd wants it, and with the words “I peed in it” they get it. Haha.

All this banter takes place in the pauses between the songs, which are necessarily an integral part of the enactment of Courtney Love’s “mythos statu nascendi”. She doesn’t just light a cigarette. No, first of all she has to stoop down to get her pack of cigarettes, secondly she almost always does it with her back to the audience, so that the description “sliding up the hem of the dress” conceals the facts more than it corresponded to reality.

Thirdly, everyone has now noticed that Courtney Love is wearing panties, despite all previous speculation from the audience, and fourthly, she lights a cigarette almost every break, takes a quick drag once or twice and then throws the butt away, because it just doesn’t carry the tension of simply standing in the shadow of the pursuer and smoking. “I’m sorry, I smoke a lot,” she apologizes, somewhat bashfully, and the suspicion arises that even this slight hint of embarrassment, calculated with ice-cold calculation in advance, is part of the nightly staging. After all, an artificial figure like Stage-Courtney doesn’t function as an unapproachable vamp, no, it has to be close to the audience.

And that’s how the contents of a mineral water bottle, including the wrapper, are now given to the audience, after all, you don’t always just want to be showered, you actually want to drink something. Courtney knows what rock fans want. The closeness to the audience reaches its climax when Courtney Love lures her sparring partner from the auditorium, a powerfully built guy who doesn’t really know at first what he’s actually supposed to do here on stage, but can cover it up quite confidently. Eventually he seems to realize that the woman seriously wants to wrestle with him here on the open stage, and in front of a sold-out arena it’s hard to back down. Uncomfortable position.

At this point I would like to refrain from reflections on the subject of “dress hems” or “Courtney Love’s stage show as an oscillation between impertinent eroticism and sexual aggressiveness”; in any case, the undertaking ends with only the guy’s powerfully built upper body protruding over the monitor boxes. Not leaving the lady in this predicament for too long, his politeness and obligingness as an extra is rewarded with a kick in the ass that sends him back into the audience, along with a tomboy- appreciative “I’m shocked, you won.”

When she realizes that this action might need some explanation, she thinks she’s a little drunk. And of course she cleverly provokes speculation as to whether she really means alcohol when she says “drunk”, and quite incidentally gets the rumor kitchen going again about what the current state of affairs in terms of heroin addiction and rehab could be.

During the encore, the band obediently hold back while Courtney sings the well-known “Naaa-naaa-naaa-nana-na-naaa” from the Beatles’ “Hey Jude.” She sings it alone. She sings it three times. She pauses for a moment before declaring, “That was my husband’s favorite song, so fuck you guys.”

Courtney and Kurt forever. That, too, is part of the great drama Hole, the second act of which we are currently in.