An evening with Courtney Love and musical collaborator Todd Almond, announced last month, happened last night at The Curran, and it was a conversation both about Kansas City Choir Boy the two-person narrative concert piece that Almond wrote and Courtney lent some of her own influence to and about Love's past in San Francisco, her current artistic aspirations, and few coy bits about her personal life as well.
Though she wouldn't say his name aloud, after a bit of needling by longtime friend and SF-based writer Kevin Sessums (who famously profiled Love for Vanity Fair the year after Cobain's death, in 1995), Love admitted she was dating, and possibly now living with, a younger man. She hasn't been afraid to name him on Instagram, however, and he's male model James Norley.
Responding to tabloid stories about how she was not invited to attend her own daughter, Frances Bean Cobain's wedding, Love posted the following photo with Norley last fall.
In between a few terrific songs from Kansas City Choir Boy, in which Love plays a character named Athena who escapes the Midwest only to go missing and meet a bad end in New York City, she told the audience that she had given up cigarettes 67 days ago, at the age of 51, and she is excited to perhaps further pursue a theatrical career now having worked on this project with Almond over the last year.
Regarding her relationship to her daughter, she said, "She's 23 and she's married now. We talk a lot. Sometimes she calls me mom. Sometimes she calls me Joan. When she's really angry she calls me Courtney."
Sessums asked her if she was ready to be a grandmother, and Love just covered her face with her hair and shook it violently, silently screaming, and then finally said, "I don't think she's planning to do that anytime soon anyway. So let's not think about it."
Love delighted longtime fans by closing the evening with a cover of a song by one of her own idols (and Almond's), PJ Harvey, "To Bring You My Love," with Almond accompanying on piano. She described Harvey as "Just incredible, and in her early stuff just so talented, and way better than me. And thank god. Because I don't have to be the best all the time." Love sounded, during this and her other numbers Monday evening, as calculatedly raw and inimitably needful as she always has, her voice having lost none of its original power to cut you.
And, of course, somebody took some cell phone video.
Love, who admits that she is "much more mellow" and more of a homebody these days than ever before, talked about her early childhood, and then her adolescence in San Francisco, and doing "a lot of drugs" with her first boyfriend Jeff who she said inspired the Hole song "Malibu." "I know every inch of this city, still," she said.
When asked by Sessums about her wealthy grandparents, who were actually her mother's adoptive parents, she admitted that the story about them being heirs to the Bausch & Lomb fortune was "a total lie." The detail remains on her Wikipedia page, but Love said, "That was just one of a number of lies I tried to put out there... My grandfather had some money that he made in the optical industry, and I just kind of elaborated on that."
She said that her grandparents, who provided her with a small trust fund of $500 a month that she says lasted from the ages of 16 to 22, lived in the posh 999 Green Street (a.k.a. Eichler's Summit Tower), which she could see from her hotel window at the Fairmont yesterday.
Despite some talk of love getting into the fashion business, and a recent collaboration on some 90's-styled looks with the label Nasty Gal, Love says she's not willing at this point to devote years of her life to building a brand. Nor, she says, is she willing to go on lengthy concert tours at her age she performed in eight cities alongside Lana Del Rey last summer, and said, "They asked if I wanted to do all 120 cities, and I was like, 'Hell no.'"
Likening herself in a few years, attitude-wise, to another idol, Patti Smith, she recalled a birthday concert that Smith did in New York with friend Michael Stipe something that's become an annual tradition in which Love shouted at the stage, from the audience, "Bring it!" Smith replied, drily, "Look, I'd rather be home reading Ulysses right now."
"If anybody shouts 'Bring it' at me when I'm her age," Courtney quipped, "I'm going to say the exact same thing."
Naturally, during her rendition of "To Bring You My Love," someone in the audience shouted "Bring it!" and Love just smiled, and kept singing.