Friday, 19 February 2010

Hole, Foxy Shazam, Little Fish at Shepherd's Bush Empire - 17 February 2010

Courtney Love at Shepherd's Bush Empire, 17/02/2010

I feel like we’ve been here before.

I’m in Shepherd’s Bush about to watch the re-launch of Courtney Love. She is here to promote a new album entitled ‘Nobody’s Daughter’.

It’s not déjà vu. In July 2007 I saw a skeletal, ill-looking Love play a set at Bush Hall just down the road from here. On that occasion the new material seemed promising, but her trademark husky roar was diminished to a cracked croak and she didn’t seem to have the breath to do justice to her back catalogue. She was plugging the same album as now.

At the Bush Hall she was supported by an early iteration of Florence and the Machine, who were irritating even then. We have two acts in the Florence role this evening, the first being Little Fish, about whom I have heard good things.

The reality is a bit disappointing. There is no denying that singer/guitarist Juju and co are very proficient and know how to work the crowd, but there is equally no denying that they are a very safe AOR drive-time radio kind of band. It’s all rather Pretenders-lite, but you feel that they could do very well.

Next up come U.S. show band Foxy Shazam, whose stage antics and audience-baiting serve as distractions from a routine college-rock sound. Singer Eric Nally is deliberately whiny and antagonistic; the huge-bearded keyboard player Sky White needs no encouragement to stand on his instrument while the trumpet player Alex Nauth throws his horn high into the air. It’s wacky-by-numbers and they pull the same stunts for every single song.

It’s all knockabout stuff, but you only need to see them do it once. File under other underwhelming novelty acts such as Electric 6, Har Mar Superstar and Tragedy.

And finally we are back with the divine Ms Love. She has revived the ‘Hole’ brand, although the original band members are long gone, replaced tonight by characterless session musicians.
The good news is that Courtney appears to have got her mojo back. She looks strong and healthy, her hair a resplendent cascade of blonde curls. The voice is back too, a rasping smoker’s snarl.

The set is well-balanced between old favourites and new material. The biggest crowd response comes for tracks such as ‘Doll Parts’ and ‘Miss World’ from the ‘Live Through This’ era. Judging by the fervour with which the audience sings along to these songs there would certainly seem to be commercial mileage should Love choose to go the ‘Don’t Look Back’ route and play the album in its entirety.

The problem that I find tonight is that the sound in the venue is so sludgy and muddy that it is hard to distinguish one song from another or the vocals from the band. It’s all one flat roar.
I’m pleased that Courtney is back on something approaching old form, but I fade away after about three quarters of an hour.

I look at the faces of the crowd. They are wrapt. There’s a Hole lotta Love out there.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Hello, Just bloghopping. Great blog!

Be Well :)