Hole – Live

Academy 1, Manchester. 07/05/2010

By Francesca Platt

“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”, says the woman who’s just released the album, ‘Nobody’s Daughter’ which includes the song ‘Never go hungry’.  Contradictory? Probably. Controversial? Of course, but when you’re dealing with Courtney Love these go with the territory, and what a messily magnificent territory it is…

For the legions of women whose formative years were spent wearing torn nighties, bleaching their hair and writing bloody awful poetry, Courtney Love and Hole were goddess like, so the chance to see them reform, all be it with only Courtney left of the original line up, means the Academy is heaving, particularly with blondes.

I must admit from the start that I am a card carrying bottle blonde. Not a nice ashy number, or a lovely golden caramel, but a brashy, peroxide, awfully proud of my roots, bleach blonde and its all La Loves fault. It may be 17 years since I first hit the bottle (after hearing Hole’s debut album ‘Pretty on the Inside’) but judging by the tender age of many of the blondes in the audience she still has that effect on girls and so does the music.

Opening with the gut wrenching howls of ‘Pretty on the Inside’ and blending seamlessly into a bashed about cover of ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ the new line up sound great. Despite obviously losing her voice, she still gives it her all, regaling the crowd with tales of her times in Manchester over the years, which surely can’t help her vocal chords, but all this adds to the rapport between her and the audience.

Whether you love her or hate her it’s impossible to deny she has a huge stage presence and with the addition of Micko Larkin from Larrikin Love on guitar replacing Eric Erlandson, she has a new foil for her dramatics. Shawn Dailey on Bass and Stu Fisher drums/percussion complete the new line up which rips through tracks from all four Hole albums.

Malibu’, ‘Celebrity Skin’ and the new, sleazily fantastic ‘Pacific Coast Highway’ whilst still rough edged, reflect the pop sensibilities hidden within Love’s music. Her acoustic rendition of ’Boys on the Radio’, while a blown amp is fixed, is achingly bittersweet and highlights her fine song writing ability. As ‘Miss World’ s opening chords infect the room, the audience go crazy, spitting out the words with all the venom of a basket of angry vipers, proper Riot grrrrl style . 

As you might expect, the biggest cheers of the night are for those songs, like ‘Miss World’, which come from ‘Live Through This’ Hole’s 1994 award winning second album, ‘Violet’ ‘Asking for it’ and concluding the evening ‘Dollparts’ and ‘Jennifer’s Body’, these are the songs that made a generation of girls feel taller, braver and a whole lot  feistier.

Tonight’s no retrospective though with Hole balancing both old and new, ‘How Dirty Girls Get Clean’ from the latest album is as raunchy a rock song as Love has ever written and latest single ‘Skinny Little Bitch’ has the dirty, rampant, stooges-esque guitars and spite filled lyrics of a classic Hole tune. Broken amps and unrehearsed older songs may create a slightly shambolic set at points, but who wants perfection? Not me, that’d be boring, something you could certainly never accuse Hole of being.

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