Only once during her first major L.A. show in years and three days after a more regular appearance in the halls of justice did Courtney Love address how synonymous ''Courtney'' and ''court'' have become. ''What is that?'' she asked the Halloween-eve crowd at the Wiltern LG, as if they could explain her lawyer's caseload. ''Tell me you're gonna make it stop! Thank you.'' A Diet Coke-sipping Love did make it through her hour-long homecoming without further baiting the law, if you don't count her felonious look a perm, pink baby-doll dress, and shiny décolletage combining to suggest Connie Stevens shilling for Frederick's of Hollywood.
If this were Love's day in musical court, a hung jury might have resulted: Any train-wreck-spotters left disappointed, and the mini-tour's brevity meant her voice was up to howling the oldies, even if the more melodic turns of this year's America's Sweetheart proved elusive. But it wasn't encouraging that she's now leaving guitar playing to the hired help, or that her efficient new attitude left little room for the rambling bons mots that used to be half the show. Personal moderation will be a great achievement for the self-proclaimedly rehabbed singer, but a Love whose act is suddenly so middling may take getting used to.
Love didn't do her legacy any favors by picking Juliette & the Licks as her opening acolytes. Actress-cum-new-waver Juliette Lewis stretched herself into every ersatz Iggy Pop pose possible, writhing, crouching, stage-diving, and shouting ''F---, yeah!'' in parody of rock abandon. Though no reality-show cameras were visible, we have to believe we were being punk'd.