PJ Harvey : New York Knitting Factory

PJ Harvey : New York Knitting Factory

Polly delivers a low-key New York treat...

href=”https://www.nme.com/artists/37906.htm”>PJ Harvey is polite. Yes, she’s also a

sexed-up nymph in love with God and fucking, and almost certainly a genius. But she’s a polite sexed-up genius. Tonight all of these aspects of her personality collide in front of us at this thrillingly tiny

club show.

Taking to the stage dressed in a stripey tube dress, her hair is tousled and her mouth ready. She’s brought all the right toys to stimulate her audience too: a PE-coach-style silver whistle she blows during ‘Meet Ze Monsta’ and a series of giant, masculine guitars she straps on, to the great delight of an audience particularly ecstatic to be close enough to their heroine to see the veins protruding from her translucent hands as she fingers her instruments.

She also sounds like the dark, compelling siren we’re used to, as her rich, violent vocals are alternately howled and murmured over throbbing basslines and serrated guitar riffs. But it’s the way she peppers her harrowing and frenzy-inducing performance with incongruously mundane acts of delicacy, like wiping her underarms with a clean towel and offering her guitarist a sip of her wine, that really display how complete a rock star this woman has become. Polly Harvey now enjoys the luxury of having nothing to prove.

This nonchalance is reflected in her song choices. Of course, she plays several selections off new album ‘Uh Huh Her’, including the riveting ‘Who The Fuck?’, but really her setlist steals from the many different incarnations she’s taken on since she first appeared in the early-’90s. From the haunting ‘Down By The Water’

(off ‘To Bring You My Love’) and the desperate ‘Dress’ (from her masterful debut ‘Dry’), to the elegant ‘The Whores Hustle And The Hustlers Whore’ (off 2000’s crossover hit ‘Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea’), each side of Polly Jean’s personality is on display tonight.

But the more diverse she gets, the more unified she sounds – as if Harvey is only complete

when borrowing from all sides of herself.

Elizabeth Goodman