She made headlines recently with her wacky MH370 theory and for admitting she’s blown the vast majority of the Nirvana fortune, but on Wednesday night, Courtney Love proved she can still rock with the best of them.
Many were expecting a train wreck. Before the show started, fans were overheard debating whether she would flash her boobs, rather than which songs in her back catalogue would make the cut.
Perth band The Tommyhawks were the opening act and played a 40-minute set before the lights dimmed for Love’s dramatic entrance. Dressed in black with cigarette in hand, she strutted on stage as spotlights danced around her.
Love offered a quick acknowledgement to the crowd before starting the show with Wedding Day, one of the tunes on her double A-side single released earlier this year.
As with much of her music, she screamed like a banshee, played the guitar like a mad woman and seemingly vented the rage and torment built up over her complicated, and often troubled, life.
She then launched into Miss World, a song she originally recorded as the lead singer of Hole.
“Can I have some tequila?”
The request was quickly met and very quickly consumed, setting the scene for heavy rock tune Plump and the pained hit Honey. A long-time fan of Fleetwood Mac, Love then channelled Stevie Nicks in a rendition of Gold Dust Woman.
“This next song is about a famous beach town you’ll never go to,” she told the crowd.
“Well, some of you will, but no one can afford to live there. I did once, they kicked me out.”
The song was Malibu, Hole’s biggest hit in Australia as evidenced by the enthusiastic response from the audience. She offered a curious reply to an inaudible comment shouted by one eager fan – “I’m not gay anymore, but thank-you.”
Love delivered the songs the fans wanted to hear with gusto, singing a number of her earlier hits before lending her gravelly vocals to her other recent release You Know My Name.
At times, she appeared frustrated at the crowd’s appetite for the songs she recorded with Hole.
“I only do this so you buy a T-shirt, so I can buy some Pepto-Bismol,” she said.
“I used to take my shirt off during this next song [Olympia] but now I’m too old.”
It’s been 15 years since Love was last in Perth. She mentioned her jet lag a number of times, urged fans to “get it while you can” and hinted that she won’t be back Down Under any time soon.
“You guys are really quiet. I’m going to get bored if you stay f--king quiet which means I’m not going to bother changing into my nice dress for an encore,” she screamed.
“Come on, give it to me. I need some sex, it’s been like two months!”
With a little encouragement, the crowd managed to work up a substantial cheer, which enticed Love back onto the stage for a four-song encore.
Dressed in a glittering knee-length outfit, she threw roses to the crowd, cast off her shoes and sang perched within reach of the front row. At one point, the audience copped an eyeful of what Love was wearing underneath her dress when she crouched as she sang He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss).
She closed the concert with signature tune Doll Parts, a song about the early days of her relationship with Kurt Cobain, which ended with the haunting line “some day you will ache like I ache”.
It seems ticket sales were lagging for the Perth show – only the lower level of the Metro City club was used for the concert. Those who filled the (rather sedate) mosh pit were but a fraction of the venue’s capacity.
Regardless, the crowd appeared to have had a good time – if the puddles of vomit on the footpath are anything to go by.
Set list (13 August 2014)
Gold Dust Woman
Reasons to Be Beautiful
You Know My Name
Skinny Little Bitch
Asking For It
Encore: Northern Star, Dying, He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss), Doll Parts