Live Review: Hole @ Sound Academy 07/10/2010

This review originally appeared at Chartattack.com

Say what you want about Courtney Love, but she is an attention magnet. From the minute the Hole front-woman stepped onto the stage Saturday night, cigarette dangling from her fingers, all eyes in Toronto’s Sound Academy were on her.

Despite years in the spotlight as a professional fuck-up, Love still means a lot to her fans, especially her female admirers, for whom Love (at least at one point) represented the pinnacle of riot grrrl feminism’s penetration into the mainstream.

Unfortunately, Love and her trio of hired guns masquerading as a reunited Hole were unable to re-create the sound and the fury that brought the band to prominence in the ’90s.

Love started with a few lines from “Pretty On The Inside/Clouds” before segueing into a brief version of The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil,” (the first of four covers) then finally settling on new track “Skinny Little Bitch.”

“Miss World” and “Violet” received rapturous applause and sing-alongs. Tunes off the recently released Nobody’s Daughter went over well with the crowd, but the band were unable to elevate them above the plodding versions found on the album. A jazzed-up take on Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” faired better, as did the always fantastic “Reasons To Be Beautiful.”

The band stuck with the rougher material, tossing in “Plump” and “Asking For It” in place of the more shimmering “Awful” and “Boys On The Radio” that they’ve been playing throughout this current tour.

Love’s voice was in top form, despite her age (she just turned 46). She also appeared incredibly lucid on stage for someone famous for public meltdowns and tirades.

But that couldn’t hide the fact that the band really seemed to be phoning it in. They lacked both the ferociousness of the Live Through This-era and the technical ambition of Celebrity Skin. Guitarist Micko Larkin and bass-player Shawn Dailey are poor stand-ins for Eric Erlandson and Melissa Auf Der Maur, who, despite being eclipsed by Love, were always strong personalities on stage. This current incarnation, meanwhile, performed Hole’s back catalogue with all the passion of a wedding band.

An all to brief set ended with “Doll Parts” before Hole returned for a four-song encore. The gig ended with Love and Larkin playing a sweet version of Big Star’s “Thirteen” before finishing the night with “Never Go Hungry.”

It was a pretty lackluster evening for a band whose legend has just grown since they last released a record 12 years ago. But that was secondary for all the fans who screamed for more even as the house lights came up; they were just happy to have their hero back.

  1. Great review, Ian. I wasn’t ever a Hole fan but I was more that a little curious to hear how she was onstage these days…and now I know :)

  2. Great review, Ian. I wasn’t ever a Hole fan but I was more that a little curious to hear how she was onstage these days…and now I know :) Courtney Love = impressive pipes. Backup Band = not worth the hype.

    • Samantha
    • July 14th, 2010 12:22am

    I cannot articulate my jealousy.

    My 12 year old self would have DIED to see C-Love singing Doll Parts. Or really, anything off Live Through This. And covering Closer. And covering Thirteen.

    Your job is amazing. And well-written, sir.

  1. No trackbacks yet.