PJ Harvey (above, performing “The Community of Hope” live on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert) has a short fuse leading to a powder keg full of emotion. And for more than two decades, she’s been using this unbridled intensity to astounding effect. With such albums that have withstood the tests of time as Rid of Me (stream it below), Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (stream it below) and Let England Shake (stream it below), Harvey has as rich and rewarding of a catalog as any of her peers. These albums have all earned their right to be called classics and still sound as vibrant and ahead of their time today. Last year’s The Hope Six Demolition Project (stream it below) is no different, with some of Harvey’s most musically adventurous and politically charged material to date. She and her top-notch band will be setting the Central Park SummerStage ablaze this Wednesday with songs from her entire career. Any chance to see Harvey and her band in the flesh is a truly mesmerizing experience. This show is one you should not miss. All hail, Polly Jean Harvey. —Pat King | @MrPatKing
Tag Archives: Let England Shake
PJ Harvey – Terminal 5 – April 20, 2011
Looking a bit otherworldly in a floor-length white gown with a flurry of black feathers atop her head, PJ Harvey hugged an autoharp to her chest and gave a small nod to the crowd at the start of the second of two sold-out shows at Terminal 5. Touring in support of Let England Shake, her new record inspired by the history of conflict and war, Harvey’s set contained songs full of arresting imagery, tales of violence and destruction and ruminations on death.
Despite the serious subject matter, Harvey and her band, comprised of album-collaborators John Parish, Mick Harvey and Jean-Marc Butty, set a tone that was anything but somber. In fact, the show was largely lively, with intricate guitars and upbeat drums complementing Harvey’s sound, which at times recalled hints of Nick Cave, Kate Bush, Björk and Tom Waits. Numbers like “The Words That Maketh Murder” and “C’mon Billy” highlighted the nice contrast between Harvey’s delicate voice and the appealingly gruff, soft-edged backing vocals from the male musicians.
Harvey alternated between autoharp and electric and acoustic guitars throughout the set, but perhaps the most engaging moments of the evening came when she sang empty-handed, during songs like “The Devil” and “Pocket Knife,” slowly and gracefully swaying to the music, letting the focus rest on her powerful voice as it moved from bright and operatic to deep and throaty. Although Harvey sings about the extreme power of tanks and guns in her new songs, at Terminal 5 last night, her voice was perhaps the most powerful weapon of all. —Alena Kastin
Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | www.gregggreenwood.com