[Live Review] PJ HARVEY (Brisbane)

PJ Harvey (3 of 10)

The Tivoili, Brisbane
Friday January 27, 2017 :

PJ Harvey’s ninth studio album, The Hope Six Dimensions Project, was reportably written during her extensive travels through Kosovo and Afghanistan. Unsurprisingly, it is a politically charged album with PJ’s usual sharp, on point, song writing. Touring off the back of said album, the great PJ Harvey graced little old Brisbane’s Tivoli, on a warm and drizzly Friday night.

With no support act, PJ Harvey took to the stage 15 minutes late to a restless crowd. Emerging in single file, PJ and her nine piece all male band marched on stage to military like percussion opening her new track ‘Chain of Keys’. PJ broke rank, so to speak, and took centre stage, wielding her saxophone like a sceptre and singing the opening lines. The band continued with the darker atmospheric songs with ‘The Ministry of Defence’ before lightening the mood with the seemingly upbeat hit, ‘The Community Of Hope’. A song whose poppy, ’50s like beat and melody is juxtaposed by its heavy lyrics which are a scathing comment on the poorer parts of the United States.

The crowd responded with recognition at the opening chords of ‘Let England Shake’. The audience moved to the powerful rhythm of the track, though the lyrics described the brutal and human cost of conflict across the world. The energy lifted again for ‘The Words That Maketh Murder’, the percussion particularly powerful, leaving the audience transfixed by PJ Harvey’s intense story telling. ‘The Glorious Land’ was the third track from this album and was powerful and eerie in its mood as the sound of the bugle on the battlefield echoed through the wall of sound built by the brass and percussion ensemble.

Without speaking to the crowd, except to introduce the band, PJ worked through her back catalogue with classics like ’50ft Queenie’ and ‘Down By The Water’ which inspired the crowd to sing along avidly.

The band took a brief break before returning for an encore, opening with a cover of Bob Dylan’s classic, ‘Highway 61 Revisited’, seemingly a staple in her live repertoire. PJ closed out the show with ‘Is This Desire’, a suitably eerie end to a beautifully memorable show.

Reviewer and Photographer : Chris Ward