Courtney Love at Danforth Music Hall – July 20, 2013

Photographs by Igor Vidyashev

Courtney Love will always be a hot mess to most people.  Years of tabloid gossip centered around drugs, money battles and custody of her daughter, it may surprise some that she’s been putting out music for 20 some odd years.

Those aware of her musical output packed the Danforth Music Hall Saturday night, probably unsure of what they were in for other than an entertaining evening.  What Madonna is to dance club gay-boys, Courtney Love is to gay boys with multiple piercings and a penchant for wearing black.

Starred were billed to open the evening and I can’t say for sure they showed up.  My poor eyesight coupled with people up front yelling “Play Hole songs” made me think Courtney had lost all her marbles and decided ambient acoustic was the course for the evening.  “We usually have a band but they couldn’t make it across the border”.  So after 30 minutes, the two on stage shuffled off, making no impression on those who showed up and stuck around.

This was my third time seeing Courtney –  first time since 1995 (18 years!).  Always controversial yet always entertaining, Miss Love and five assembled hands hit the stage at 9:30 and launched into “Plump” followed by “Skinny Little Bitch”.

From there it was a Hole show through and through, delivering exactly what the assembled masses wanted.  Courtney, clearly in party mode courted controversy after declaring “Mama needs some nicotine” before lighting up and defying Toronto’s smoking by-laws.

But who cares about smoking by-laws when you get a set-list heavy on Live Through This and Celebrity Skin.  Aside from two covers (Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman” being one of them) nothing from her solo branded product was aired, including an upcoming fall album to coincide with her memoirs.

Sound at the Danforth Music Hall has much improved.  A great relief considering Courtney can still hit most of those high screeches.  I found the sound a bit subdued until the soundman pushed all the controls to Maximum for a blistering set-closer, “Miss World”.

A trio of acoustic numbers featuring Courtney and one guitar player started the encore with the rest of the band returning to the stage for the night’s finale, “Doll Parts”.

Finally billed the way she wanted it, Courtney Love delivered.  No matter what this “hot mess” is going through in the tabloids, she has an obvious strong mutual love affair with her fans (who tossed lingerie, drank tequila and sang every word right along with her).  It’s this part of her persona that doesn’t get much press but makes her so endearing to those who have stuck by her side all these years.

Thanks to Embrace Presents for media access.

About author

Concert reviewer at Live in Limbo.