More love is due for PJ Harvey whose album, Let England Shake, continues to weave its magical spell.
I have to be patient and wait four months before she plays her one and only concert in Italy at Ferrara on July 6th.
I was keen to know how these songs sound live so I asked my friend Rachael to write a guest review of Polly’s recent gig in London .
Here’s what she wrote:
PJ Harvey @ The Troxy, London, February 28th 2011
On the darkened stage of the 1930s art-deco ex-cinema, Polly Jean Harvey stood in a white spotlight that made her look like a ghostly Victorian figure from a daguerreotype.
Wearing a long white dress and a black feather headdress, she strummed her autoharp as ‘Let England Shake’ filled the Troxy with a curiously ancient sound.
The first six songs were all from the new work, including one not featured on the album; ‘The Big Guns Called Me Back Again’. Then we heard ‘The Devil’ and ‘The Sky Lit Up’ – and I wondered why. I’ve never seen Polly live before, so perhaps it’s her wont to sprinkle in a few old numbers. Still, I couldn’t help thinking we were being compensated for the distinct change in style. I hope not, because it wasn’t necessary.
This audience seemed far more receptive to the new songs than the one at La Maroquinerie in Paris on the CD’s release date, but then we’d had a chance to listen to them. The songs are often fast-paced and end quite abruptly. There was no rock-concert ambiance at all – but the marvellous spectacle of an artist brave enough to give us what we didn’t know we wanted or needed. Continue reading
I can’t wait to hear the whole of PJ Harvey‘s new album Let England Shake tecorded in a 19th Century church near her home in Dorset. I now also want to see all the 12 videos that accompany the tracks shot by Seamus Murphy.
The first two of these for The Last Living Rose and The Words That Maketh Murder are now up on her website and you can also see them here to save you an extra mouse click. Continue reading
Jane Bown’s lifetime in photography is justifiably celebrated and is in the news again through the publication of a collection of her most famous shots (‘Exposures’) and an exhibition at the Kings Place Gallery in London.
A selection of her fantastic portraits can be seen in the the gallery in the Observer .
All her subjects are in black and white and captured using just natural lighting. Bown, now in her 80s, is a modest and self effacing character who shuns the limelight and this is probably what allowed her to get close to her subjects, even those who were notoriously camera shy, like Lucien Freud and Samuel Beckett.
The eyes are what you are drawn to when you see these images.
This great picture of P.J. Harvey, which I hadn’t previously seen, illustrates what makes Jane Bown so great. In that strong sorrowful gaze you get a glimpse of what makes Polly Harvey’s music so powerful – the look (and the music) manages to be both assertive and fragile at the same time.
Brown almost certainly didn’t know Harvey’s music when she took this photo, just as she had never heard of Bjork or Jarvis Cocker when she was commissioned to photograph them. This shows that her skill lies in being an instinctive judge of what made people tick.