Courtney Love, Juliette Lewis

Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles 10/30/04

Music Reviews Courtney Love
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Courtney Love, Juliette Lewis

To be perfectly blunt, attending a Courtney Love concert these days is like being a NASCAR fan at the speedway, secretly hoping for a flaming crash. With Love, anything can happen, at any turn. She has been in the news so much lately—and for all the wrong reasons— that it’s easy to forget she’s also an active recording artist. “I have to tiptoe,” Love quipped at one point, explaining why she wouldn’t be stage diving this night. And just to prevent any potentially lawsuit-inducing physical activities, a burly body guard stood ominous in the wings, keeping a keen eye on Love’s every suspicious move.

Performing before an enthusiastic, if small, Halloween Eve audience—many dressed in dark holiday spirit—Love hit the stage barely covered in a low-cut pink party dress. Backed by her all-girl band, she ripped through over a dozen rockers, the same way she ripped off pieces of her clothing during the show. In addition to her compositions like “Asking for It” and the jangly single “Sunset Strip,” Love also covered Buffy Saint-Marie’s “Codeine” and folk standard “House of the Rising Sun.”

She sounded in fine form, if it’s even accurate to describe what she does as “singing.” Rather, she came off like a harder rocking Marianne Faithfull. And, to my surprise, she was almost certainly sober, easily maintaining her balance while standing on the edge of a stage monitor (surely, this is an excellent sobriety test for any alcohol-abusing rock ‘n roller). And in case any of you tabloid reader-types are wondering, she didn’t say or do anything that would add to her already lengthy lawsuit tally. During Halloween, when frightening people usually rise to the occasion, Love was spookily on her best behavior.

Actress-turned-rocker Juliette Lewis preceded Love with a little punk spunk of her own. Dressed in an outfit that included matching yellow gloves and pants, Lewis came off as part screaming frontwoman/part amateur gymnast. There have been many notably mobile lead singers in pop music over the years, ranging from the smooth moves of James Brown to the gyrating oddities of Mick Jagger, but few have been more limber than Lewis. She could make a pretzel jealous. In a set that mixed punk attitude with a little Devo beat here and a touch of Billy Idol-isms there, Lewis played the part of rock 'n' roll singer with gusto.

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