Live Review: Courtney Love @ Shepherds Bush

Courtney Love live in London at Shepherds Bush Empire Sunday 11th May. (Kim Ford)

Courtney Love live in London at Shepherds Bush Empire Sunday 11th May. (Kim Ford)

Only last week, Courtney Love surprised a handful of lucky fans to an intimate show inside a small coffee shop in Clapton, East London. For those who weren’t able to get into this free show, she hung out on the street, chatted with them and posed for photographs. She sang a short acoustic set on a make-shift stage by the cake counter. Tonight, she rocked the bright lights of Shepherd’s Bush Empire, on the first of her two consecutive shows at this grand London venue.

Courtney Love live in London at Shepherds Bush Empire Sunday 11th May. (Kim Ford)

Courtney Love live in London at Shepherds Bush Empire Sunday 11th May. (Kim Ford)

A noticeable and controversial figure, Love has consistently been subject to media scrutiny and negative press, but with the twentieth anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death, this somewhat unpopular figure among Cobain’s fans has certainly had a tough time of it recently. The newly revealed post-suicide note, found in Cobain’s wallet, describing Love as a gold-digging ‘bitch with zits’, and Love’s estranged father Hank Harrison, publicly declaring that his own daughter was somehow involved in her husband’s death, has sparked even further controversy among conspiracy theorists. This can’t be good publicity for the first new solo material Courtney has released since the flop of 2004”s ‘America’s Sweetheart’, but then Love was never one for conventional press.

Courtney Love live in London at Shepherds Bush Empire Sunday 11th May. (Kim Ford)

Courtney Love live in London at Shepherds Bush Empire Sunday 11th May. (Kim Ford)

Love arrives on stage clutching a handful of red roses in one hand and an electronic cigarette in the other. The cigarette suggests, perhaps, the wild child is starting to be tamed in her later years. She puffs away with a fun, over exaggerated punk swagger, throws the roses into the crowd and opens the show with the unapologetic banger, Wedding Day, one of two new songs from the freshly released double A-side single. Written after the frustration and anger of a recent break-up, this anthemic onslaught of thumping drums, abrasive riffs, and raspy, unpolished vocals is spat with rage and full throttle intensity.

Courtney Love live in London at Shepherds Bush Empire Sunday 11th May. (Kim Ford)

Courtney Love live in London at Shepherds Bush Empire Sunday 11th May. (Kim Ford)

The grunge goddess belts out a career-spanning set of Hole hits including Honey, Skinny Little Bitch, Miss World, Malibu and even golden oldie 20 Years in the Dakota. The show has a real sense of freedom and spontaneity, with Love wavering from the set list and feeding off the overwhelming energy of the crowd. “I seriously haven’t done this song in like 20 years. We should just do it, people always ask for it,” Love says, before screaming out Rockstar, the once controversial song from Hole’s Live Through This album. The crowd explodes into a pogo of flailing bodies, pints are thrown into the air without a care and showers of beer rain down. Love bursts out with laughter at the end of the song and jokingly asks, “We did alright… RIGHT?!”.

 

Courtney Love live in London at Shepherds Bush Empire Sunday 11th May. (Kim Ford)

Courtney Love live in London at Shepherds Bush Empire Sunday 11th May. (Kim Ford)

Love plays homage to the Live Through This album, on its twentieth anniversary, with other old favourites, Plump, Asking For It and Violet. The biggest roar from the crowd could be heard for Celebrity Skin, the debut single from Hole’s third studio album of the same name and their most commercially successful song to date.

Courtney Love live in London at Shepherds Bush Empire Sunday 11th May. (Kim Ford)

Courtney Love live in London at Shepherds Bush Empire Sunday 11th May. (Kim Ford)

Wearing an incredibly short black number, and fishnet tights, it’s hard to believe that the former self-labelled ‘Riot Grrl’ is hitting 50 years old this year. Love jokes, “You’re lucky you’re at the first show, cus tomorrow I’m gonna be all cranky and horse.” An impassioned, powerful front woman – Love is wonderfully mad and clearly staying young by having fun .Current single, You Know My Name, seethes with attitude and angst. Love snarls the words, “Hey! You know my name, I’ll bring the truth, I’ll never change. Hey! I am the one, the one you blame, I’ll bring the shame!”. It’s an enormous bite of punk rock over catchy and hook-filled riffs, and proof that Love still has it in her to write a cracking pop song.

 

Courtney Love live in London at Shepherds Bush Empire Sunday 11th May. (Kim Ford)

Courtney Love live in London at Shepherds Bush Empire Sunday 11th May. (Kim Ford)

A quick wardrobe change and Love returns for an acoustic encore, looking deceptively innocent and angelic in her long white dress, illumined by a single spotlight. The show comes to a close with the raw emotion of Doll Parts. The tightly packed crowd sing in unison while Love reaches out to them, touching their hands and thanking them for coming.

Courtney Love live in London at Shepherds Bush Empire Sunday 11th May. (Kim Ford)

Courtney Love live in London at Shepherds Bush Empire Sunday 11th May. (Kim Ford)

I left tonight’s show feeling inspired and grinning from ear to ear. The constant whirlwind of hits wrapped me tightly in warm nostalgia, while the new songs left me thirsty for more.

Having recently announced that the classic 1990’s Hole line up are reforming, Love is quoted on her Facebook page as saying, “2014 going to be a very interesting year.” I tend to agree.

[photoshelter-gallery g_id=”G0000m41O7v450NA” g_name=”Courtney-Love” f_show_caption=”t” f_show_slidenum=”t” img_title=”casc” pho_credit=”iptc” f_link=”t” f_enable_embed_btn=”t” f_send_to_friend_btn=”t” f_fullscreen=”t” f_show_watermark=”t” f_htmllinks=”t” f_mtrx=”t” fsvis=”f” width=”600″ height=”450″ f_constrain=”t” bgcolor=”#ffffff” bgtrans=”t” btype=”new” bcolor=”#CCCCCC” crop=”f” twoup=”t” trans=”flip” tbs=”4000″ f_ap=”t” linkdest=”c” f_topbar=”f” f_bbar=”f” f_bbarbig=”” f_smooth=”f” f_up=”f” target=”_self” ]

Photography and Live Review by Kim Ford. Courtney Love. Shepherds Bush Empire. Sunday 12th May 2014.

 

One Step Closer (Spencer Chamberlain)

Hardcore Outfit One Step Closer Drop Orange Leaf

One Step Closer are gearing up for their highly anticipated new full-length, All You Embrace, and in the build-up to...
Glasto 2024 Avalon expanded scaled

Glastonbury Festival’s Field Of Avalon Announces 2024 Line-Up

The full stage announcements are coming in thick and fast as the Glastonbury Festival 2024 ticket resales approach...
The Hives @ Hammersmith Apollo, London (Pauline Di Silvestro)

The Hives Are As Ferocious As Ever At The Hammersmith Apollo

It’s the first real day of spring in London, and crowds seem to flock in thousands to Hammersmith station, sharply...
Glasto 2024 Acoustic

Glastonbury Festival Announces Full Acoustic Stage Line-Up For 2024

Following the first line-up announcement for Glastonbury Festival 2024 dropping less than one month back and...
Eloise Viola (Press)

Eloise Viola Explores Debut Album Glasshouse With Latest Single Lifetime

Eloise Viola has released her brand new single Lifetime, the latest song to be taken from her forthcoming debut...
OhGunquitLex 32 scaled

Oh! Gunquit Searing Garage Rock Rampage At The Lexington

Oh! Gunquit played a sold out show at The Lexington, a full on blast of sleazy garage rock.

China Bears (Press)

China Bears Find Their North Star

Rising indie four-piece China Bears have released their anthemic new single North Star. The rousing, yet melodious...
John Linger of Girls In Synthesis @ Brixton Academy (Kalpesh Patel)

Girls In Synthesis Tease More Sublimation With Deceit

After two critically acclaimed albums – 2020’s Now Here’s An Echo From Your Future and 2022’s The Rest Is Distraction...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share Thing