The Canyon Club - Agroua Hills, CA
July 26, 2013
Courtney Love at...The Canyon Club? In Agoura Hills? Isn't that the place where, like, Flock of Seagulls and The Knack appear on their nostalgia tours? Well, guess what folks...Live Through This is almost 20 years old...and as Courtney remarked "This is my oldies tour, and I am never doing this again..."
It's an odd venue deep in the Valley. Appropriately for the evening's show, there's an antique store in the same strip mall by the club called A Beautiful Mess. They sell dinner packages for the shows, so a good portion of the crowd was sitting down when she took the stage. Courtney said, "Are you people sitting down? Is this dinner theater? Am I playing fucking dinner theater??? Oh, how the mighty have fallen." Well, she needn't have worried, although she mentioned "dinner theater" a few more times during the show, because most of the crowd was packing the general admission floor area and screaming along with all the old songs. And is she still relevant? Well, I went with two 17-year-olds who are avid fans and pushed their way to the front and had a joyful and emotional time. The songs capture the female experience in a visceral, honest, and often ugly way, and the world hasn't changed that much in 20 years.
Her new band is all dudes, and they are tight. They ripped through a 70-minute set that covered her whole career. It was a treat to hear "Gold Dust Woman". She played a couple songs off America's Sweetheart and Nobody's Daughter, but the bulk of the set was from Live Through This and Celebrity Skin, with a smattering of Pretty on the Inside.
Some people dismiss Celebrity Skin as too poppy and slight, but I like the album a lot and so did this California crowd. When I first moved to LA, I drove up the PCH to Malibu listening to the album and songs like "Malibu" and "Pacific Coast Highway" and I felt like I was finally home. This was now the soundtrack to my life, just as Live Through This had helped me navigate the difficult transition between college and "real life."
While I don't always like Courtney, I always respect what she's gone through and how she has managed to survive, and I dig her music. And she looks quite good at 49. I wasn't close to the stage but didn't notice any obvious creepy plastic surgery. She's still got energy and her barbaric yawp.
"Let me check out the demographic...Nirvana t-shirt? check. Homos? You were there for me at the lowest points. Fucked up girls?" Courtney said. Yes, they were all there in abundance. Who else was there? Nikki Sixx was watching from the side of the stage. Courtney made a reference to her best friend being there and how they were an odd combo, but didn't really say if she was talking about Nikki or someone else. I can picture Courtney and Nikki having some shared experiences to discuss.
Overall, I'd say she seemed much more commanding and in the groove than when I last saw her in 2010. She's obviously worked more with this band and is comfortable with them. She said they will have a new single out before Christmas.
I was pleased to see Live Through This made the recent Entertainment Weekly list of 100 Essential Albums. "Violet" still riles me up, and I felt a solidarity with everyone in the crowd who was singing along, even the dude next to me with the Affliction shirt and Goo Goo Dolls hairstyle with frosted highlights. Courtney came back and delivered "Doll Parts" as an encore, after complaining about how hard it was to breathe life into that old chestnut. Breathe life - and spit fire - she did.
My reviews of Hole in 2010 and 1998.
My Courtney Love choose-your-own-celebrity adventure