Everett True

Courtney Love, live in Brisbane, 2014

Courtney Love, live in Brisbane, 2014
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Words: Virginia Henslizley
Photography: Everett True

The mere thought of seeing Courtney Love live has me reverting. Reverting to the days of desertion at my familial home on the Sunshine Coast in which I’d spend afternoons post-school visiting forums defending Courtney Love from the erroneous lashings of Cobain worshippers. Statistically, those protective of Love were a vast international parade of teenage females with baby doll adorned, Live Through This era Love as their avatars. Tonight was not much dissimilar as I wrathfully peruse through the (namely) sexist lashings of Dune Rats fans. The band had earlier posted

Just got given tickets to watch Courtney Love tonight! Keen to throw another can at her kinda”

Followed by

“Not actually going to throw a can at a female. Even if that female may have killed Kurt Cobain.”

Reading the Cobain admiration spewed out by an army of white dude adolescents promptly reminded me of what had so allied me with ‘Queen Courtney’ originally – she was the victim and she executed the role flawlessly. And now, freshly 50 years of age, Love is a fully-fledged survivor. Whether you love her, whether you hate her – you have to admit she’s had pretty good innings and that if you’re not singing along to ‘Malibu’ – you’re a fucking sham.

No matter how Love was to perform at Eatons Hill Hotel that night, I had already assigned my tick of approval, however aware I was that I was not going to witness the vehemently bull-headed and lawless Courtney I had initially fallen for. To put it simply – Courtney Love is my problematic favourite – she empowers women with her brand of take-no-prisoners grunge then to my disappointment she attacks Queen of feminist empowerment Kathleen Hanna, she releases albums that define my misspent youth, then in 2014 releases ‘You Know My Name’ which less than pleases me (her rendition of it on the night in question is equally as displeasing).

I still love her relentlessly. And I’m unsure of when my levels of maturity will allow me to stop taking the internet seriously enough to defend a woman I do not know, but I’ve assigned myself with the lifelong task of spreading the good word of Courtney Love whether or not anyone is listening.

As expected, we witness grown Courtney. Fitted in a rose pink Alannah Hill satin slip, she spots the shop assistant who helped her earlier in the day within the crowd, gushes and thanks her for assisting with tonight’s outfit choice. When offered alcohol Courtney laments that she’s “too old for that shit” and demands an iced latte. Her voice, though still raspy and captivating, falters and dulls as the show progresses. Fans who expect Courtney to expose her baps are met with cheekiness when jokingly adds “I gotta take my top off, oh, not that top, are you kidding me?” as she unbuttons her over-coat. Heck, even her merchandise has grown more sophisticated over the years with her face imposed in the Versace Lion symbol.

Some things remain the same – one leg propped on the amplifier, a primitive claim of space. ‘Malibu’ is present as is ‘Celebrity Skin’, ‘Olympia’, ‘Doll Parts’, ‘Asking For It’, ‘Plump’, ‘Reasons To Be Beautiful’. Her presence is weighty as she steals the scene with every curse and screech.

It’s difficult not to revert as I share the same space with the woman who once implored that young girls go “find the three biggest bitches in your town and start a band”, who inspired me to drop my first $700 on a Fender Stratocaster and to unapologetically spew out lyrics and art no matter how discomforting. Courtney and I have both progressed, but at the halfway mark when the opening chords of ‘Asking For It’ kick in and she rearranges her hair into a chaotic nest, she has my full and undivided attention and it’s acceptable if we both revert, even for a brief time.

7 Responses to Courtney Love, live in Brisbane, 2014

  1. Ben Green August 22, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Killer review

  2. knuckleballszzz August 22, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    great review, but the photo looks like it was taken through a piece of sheet metal with an old shoe…

  3. CDH August 22, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Thanks for your words, Virginia.

    I can remember going through Nambour State High School with all the lads wearing their NIRVANA t-shirts under their school shirts and unbuttoning them at lunchtime to show their allegiance, with their excuse that it was too hot or they didn’t want to spill melted Sunnyboy on their school uniform to the teachers, and I remember when a year 11 dude brought the greatest hits CD in the tin with all the b-sides to school and banged on about how it cost him $100 at Leading Edge in the Plaza.

    Simpler times though they were, I always thought there was an undercurrent of sexism with these Nirvana fans (though not for all, of course) – I think it’s a uniquely Australian thing, seeing as we were so far removed from it (particularly those going through high school in the 2000s) where Nirvana became an image more than a band, divorced from its history (besides being the ‘inventors of grunge’) and lumped in with Iron Maiden and AC/DC and melded with flanos and cars and underage drinking.

    Not whinging about Nirvana’s fans in SEQ ‘misinterpreting’ the ethos behind the tunes, or saying these blokes (and they were almost always blokes) NOT GETTING IT – because bullshit that fans should fit inside a particular style. It was so interesting though that this certain band became this certain style for a large amount of people in that certain area.

    That’s what your writing reminded me of and thank you for it – and thanks CB for publishing.


  4. Mike August 22, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Excellent review, Virginia! Wow, “find the three biggest bitches in your town and start a band” isn’t that true? Love your musical efforts XO.

  5. Everett True August 22, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    Great review

  6. LeeA August 22, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Virginia, this is excellent. Review more shows, pls. Also, I love the photo. Courtney looks like she has an aura.

  7. Jackson August 23, 2014 at 10:04 am

    It’s past time for her to retire. Too many vastly deserving up-and coming bands/vocalists to spend time on a moldy-oldie musician. I guess if you’re as old as her, and your favorite thing musically is nostalgia – go for it. She needs to step down, though. Really.

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