Monday night marked my fifth PJ concert, and it was inarguably the best. But for all those who'd like a recap of the first four, here goes!
1. London, 1997.
I first saw her when I was studying abroad in the UK; she was performing as Polly Jean Harvey, and playing the album she recorded with John Parish, Dance Hall at Louse Point, with the Mark Bruce Dance Company. I was slowly recovering from some serious intestinal troubles that you most certainly do not want to hear about. Let's just say I was barely eating and I felt like I should've been in bed, but nothing would keep me from a chance to see PJ Harvey live, even if it was just as back-up for a modern dance troupe. I remember three amazing things about the show: 3) she played a few songs with just the band as an encore, and I remember being particularly over the moon about "Hardly Wait" from 4-Track Demos, which has a funny favorite PJ line of mine ("Dear Romeo / Make my water break."); 2) the way she screeched the last line of "City of No Sun" ("Love LIES!") as the music stopped underneath her, leaving nothing but her piercing vocal to rattle my brain and give me chills; 3) although she stood to one side of the stage with the band for most of the show to make room for the dancers, during the insane "Taut," which to this day remains one of my favorite songs of hers, she stepped out and gestured to the duet going on centerstage, prone, on the floor. A man and woman were basically writhing and all but simulating sex (I'm afraid that's a horrible and inadequate description of the choreography, but it's been over 10 years now) while she sang lines like "even the son of God had to die my darling." God I love that woman.
Since I've brought up "Taut," I'm just going to have to digress for a moment and quote a chunk of the lyrics here because "Taut" may contain the only PJ Harvey lyric I manage to quote on a regular basis.
I remember it all started when he bought that carThe way she almost hisses that last line is something that I've basically lifted, and I toss it out occasionally whenever I tell stories about various calamities. It makes a nice button on a rehashing of a bad boyfriend or what have you. "I'm over that nowwwwww." And it's a nice pop reference that makes me smile, even though I know that no one I talk to on a regular basis who isn't my friend Kevin would know what I was referencing.
It was the first thing he ever owned apart from me
And the color was red
And the color was red and he drove me
He drove me out of my mind
I'm over that now
2. Pittsburgh, opening for U2, 2001
I think it was 2001, anyway. I know she was touring for Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, which came out in 2000 on the same day U2's All You Can't Leave Behind came out. I bought both, as I was still marginally interested in what U2 was up to, but I barely listened to the latter. Anyway, I wasn't going to bother to go see this show because I knew it was just going to be a big tacky stadium thing and tickets were too much, but I couldn't let a PJ Harvey appearance pass me by, could I? So last minute I went on Ticketmaster and they'd released a bunch of tickets behind the stage for 45 bucks. I basically looked at PJ's back for her whole set, but we were close enough to the floor that I could see her enter and exit the stage; of course I screamed "I love you PJ!" as she exited; I think I scared her a little.
3 and 4. L.A. - the Uh-Huh Her shows, 2004 (I think)
I saw her twice in either 2004 or 2005; it'd be easy for me to verify those dates but I'm feeling lazy right now. Maybe it's because it's 4:35am and my bout of mini-insomnia is coming to a swift end now that I have to be up in less than two-and-a-half hours. Might also explain why I'm combining the appearances. They were both great sets, although I remember the shows as much for Josh Klinghoffer bounding around that stage as much for her performances; if memory serves I was pretty much entranced by both. Her outfits were hot; her band was hot; she didn't do "Hardly Wait," but she did "Taut" twice. And that tour spawned a live DVD!
I'll tell you about Monday's show in a bit. I'm gonna try to go back to bed now.
Oh, before I go, here's a clip of her doing "Taut" on Sessions at West 54th Street. That's John Parish playing with her. On your right, I think....