lör 22 okt – PJ Harvey
So today I have read most of the reviews of PJ Harvey's concert yesterday evening. It was certainly as good or better than what all the reviews said, but more about that further down. PJ and me go back to the excellent record, to bring you my love, but it has been resting since her last record, Let England Shake was released, and it has been this years favorite companion.
The background for me ending up at the concert was slightly more chaotic than usual. I totally missed the release of the tickets, but after the first concert sold out I managed to grab a couple of tickets high up on the balcony. I read other reviews and it has been commented several times that those seats are well-known for the bad visibility. Nevertheless I was still SO happy to have tickets at all. On Thursday this week they released more tickets ( as announced from PJ's page on Facebook). Oh what joy, I managed to get tickets for seats right in the middle on 13th row. Being used to seated concerts I know that these seats are actually among the best in the whole room.
Now for the concert, it was announced to start at 8 and no warm-up act. That meant early dinner, and the beers had to be drunk before going to the church. Yes, PJ would actually sing in a church, but, since here latest record is actually recorded in a church it makes sense to me. We had a good dinner at Raw, a sushi and grill place located right across from the church. That eating was probably a 4/5 experience.
When we wanted to go in there was a long line outside, but everything went quickly. We skipped borrowing a songbook of hymns, and went right to the seats, that was comfy for being in a church. The audience was very excited in a very solemn way. This concert is not entertainment in the ordinary sense, but almost serious business. On the scene it was clear that the band would be seated to the far right. The instruments was placed on old wooden furnitures and there were a few illuminated tables with glasses of water. To the left was a single microphone stand. The background solid black... A lot of black in this concert.
At about 8.15 everybody was seated and the 3 man band came in all dressed in black and took seat. The band consisting among other of John Parish, PJ's constant sidekick these days. After them PJ glided in , dresses in a black Victorian dress, black feathers in her hair and hugging an Autoharp. The audience went all silent, and someone actually could hush the audience without anyone laughing. They started to play Let England Shake, the version very close to one in the record. This was perfection. And it continued... Most of the music was from her most recent album. Between the songs PJ just disappeared into the darkness, and came back, either with a guitar or the Autoharp. She always left the microphone in the stand. She did not say a ward until the start of the encore when she presented the band. Usually I do not like that with artists, but this time the songs were so strong by themselves. The sound was exquisite, and not a single time I needed to bring up the earplugs (a very strong sign of good sound in my view). Her voice is excellent, and there were not a single problem to follow her line. The new songs sounded exactly like on the record. The older songs were redone in a more acoustic way, and she sang them with a less grungy feeling, time moves on. I was sometimes moved to tears by the songs, but in a very good way.
For me it is not possible comment this concert without drawing parallels to the Patti Smith concert earlier this year. Botha a very political, but the ways to express this is so very different. PJ choose a very Victorian serious approach, whereas Patti is the agitator with a fist in the air. Still their very strict control of the music and the way they both interact with the band is very similar. Just wonder when PJ Harvey will be voted into Rock n Roll hall of fame, and get the Polar Prize. Probably she has to quite writing new music first and become a historic icon. I hope I will be there when she has her Polar Music concert.
Until then, I just have to wait until I can se her and her band again.