LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - It wasn't quite a triumphant return but a respectable comeback.
Courtney Love and the reconstituted Hole launched their U.S. tour Thursday in support of new album "Nobody's Daughter." After all the gossip-column headlines, paparazzi photos, detours into Hollywood and detox, it was good to see Love back where she belongs: onstage.
Love has never been an amazing vocalist or musician, but she is a great rock star, loaded with charisma and swagger, and that was on full display during Hole's nearly hourlong set on the first of two sold-out nights at the Music Box at the Fonda in Hollywood. She's also unpredictable and ballsy.
Not many artists would have the chutzpah to kick off a show with the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil," a song that's so closely associated with Jagger and Richards that few have the stones to cover it and even fewer can pull it off.
But Love and company did just that, albeit an abbreviated version, before launching into the band's new single "Skinny Little Bitch," which has everything you'd want from a Hole song: a killer hook and plenty of raw sexual attitude.
Some naysayers might argue that it's not appropriate for Love to revive the Hole banner without any of her former bandmates in tow. But if Billy Corgan and John Lydon can do it with Smashing Pumpkins and Public Image Ltd., respectively, why can't Courtney? She, like Corgan and Lydon, always has been the driving force, face and voice of her band.
The new lineup, featuring guitarist Micko Larkin, certainly was capable of providing the sort of loose and raucous accompaniment that suits Love well, but there wasn't a whole lot of interaction between the players. That might be because the hired hands realize that Love is clearly the star, and she played that role to the hilt, striking arms-wide-open Jesus Christ poses and teasing the faithful with numerous sexual innuendoes.
To the delight of the adoring faithful, Love and the band steam-rolled through Hole favorites like "Violet" and "Malibu." But the most interesting numbers of the night, including "Someone Else's Bed" and "Pacific Coast Highway" from the new album, had Love showing more restraint and were shockingly tasteful and melodic, sort of like classic Fleetwood Mac reinterpreted by a garage band.
Love wrapped up the regular set with another brief shot of the Stones' "Sympathy" before encoring with Hole's "Doll Parts." She again dug into the Stones catalog for a scorching take on "Play With Fire" and closed with an emotional acoustic reading of her band's "Northern Star."
Taken together, the latter two songs brought to mind Marianne Faithfull, another controversial female rock figure initially known more for her association with male rock gods than for her own talents. Only Love knows for sure if she was intentionally conjuring up visions of Faithfull. Or maybe that's just Courtney's way auditioning for her biopic.