Wednesday, 2 March 2011

GIG! PJ Harvey. The Troxy. 28.02.11

The Real Queen of England.

Polly Jean Harvey is a rare breed of artist. One that manages to stay relevant after all these years - 20 since her mind blowing debut album Dry - making songs possessing that magic you can't put your finger on but in turn made so many of us fall in love with music.

Some point out that her work after 2001's Stories From the City, Stories from the Sea suffers a dip in form. Well, let's just say that certain artists/ bands would sell their poor collective souls to make albums like Uh Uh Her and White Chalk. 

Tonight's gig at Limehouse's The Troxy had been a sell out for ages, with tickets being snapped up back in October. The band for the occasion comprises long time collaborators John Parish and Mick Harvey, plus Jean-Marc Butty on drums; this is the collective that recorded her latest, brilliant, offering Let England Shake.

Its title track starts the set and sets the tone for the night; subtle arrangements with not many guitars in sight. Polly plays an autoharp, sometimes swapping it for an electric guitar. My mind blurs while the new record unfolds. The sound is so full. Even more impressive as the band play with the concept of space. There's so much going on, and at the same time it sounds so stripped down. Then she plays The Sky Lit Up, slower, so heavy. The audience's heartbeats seem to follow suit. My mind blurs even more. England is the best of the new ones. There are no words to describe it.

Death never sounded so sweet. 

Her voice is emotional for the entire performance. She doesn't address the crowd for a second. She doesn't need to. She's magnetic. 

It doesn't stop there. The double of Bitter Branches, followed by Down By The Water is mesmerising, before she disappears offstage and comes back for the encore, as if to deliver the final kill. All hail Polly Jean Harvey, The Real Queen of England.

The full setlist is below. 

Let England Shake
The Words That Maketh Murder
All & Everyone
The Guns Called Me Back Again
Written on the Forehead
In the Dark Places
The Devil
Sky Lit Up
The Glorious Land
The Last Living Rose
Pocket Knife
Bitter Branches
Down by the Water
C'mon Billy
Hanging in the Wire
On Battleship Hill
Big Exit
The Colour of the Earth

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