Hole, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

4.00

When all you need is Love

Such is Courtney Love's reputation for mayhem, the packed house at Shepherd's Bush Empire weren't even sure that she would turn up for tonight's gig. Her band, Hole, might not have played in the UK for over 10 years, but expectations for the evening ahead were running pretty low.

Rock star wife. Rock star widow. Drug addict. Actress. Tabloid train wreck. It seems that Love has lived a dozen lives, but, tonight, she's back to what made her famous in the first place, being frontwoman of the seminal grunge band and Nineties favourite, Hole. Some would argue that Hole don't really exist anymore, considering there are no original members besides Love, but let's face it, the focus was never on the others anyway. Hole is, and has always been, the Courtney Love show.

And so she appears, unexpectedly bang on time, a sort of trashy, gothic dolly. Her cascading pre-Raphaelite curls are held down by a sparkly headband, a purple lace prom dress clings to her wiry frame.

She leads the band straight into "Pretty on the Inside" and a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil", before they showcase some tracks from the forthcoming album, Nobody's Daughter, a record plagued by problems that has taken about five years in total to make. New songs like "Skinny Little Bitch" and "Samantha" prove that fans should be more excited than wary at the prospect of the first Hole album since 1998's Celebrity Skin.

There are some emotional moments during the evening, including a full-on ballad, "Letter to God" and the yearning "Pacific Coast Highway" but, happily, a number of classics are played, which see the whole room erupt. The familiar sound of "Miss World", "Malibu" and "Celebrity Skin" all result in crowd-surfing and drinks being sent flying. An encore of "Doll Parts" and "Northern Star" also delights the crowd, which judging by the wide age range, seems to be made up of new teenage fans as well as those who can remember when Courtney and Kurt met.

As the frontwoman, Love is assured and ballsy. Her voice, hardened by years of chain-smoking, is perfectly raspy for the demands of the music, but she's now 45 years old and out of practice with touring. She has a teleprompter on stage and she admits to being "rusty on the guitar". It's clear the gig physically takes its toll on her. After the main set, she looks worn and weary, her make-up smeared in sweat over her face, her fingers bleeding. But it also shows just how dedicated she is to giving the evening her all. And while Love may have sobered up, she hasn't lost the propensity to shock. She laughs in between songs that "we're a real band. We've all had loads of sex and drugs together".

Love her or hate her, tonight she rose above the endless controversies. Some people will always know her as a deranged mess, but to legions of other fans, she's rock's first lady and more than that she proves that she might still be a relevant force for today.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn