PJ Harvey, Shepherds Bush Empire, London, December 1998
If I did go to the UK with a musical bucket list in my mind, then PJ Harvey would be very high up that wish list. Since being turned on to ‘The Peej’ by women-folk friends when her awesome Rid of Me album came out (another Steve Albini-produced scorcher), I don't think I've liked a female artist more. This wee lassie can rock, croon, sing like a siren, scream… and play guitar real good, eh. Since Rid of Me, she had released to stomping solo effort To Bring You My Love, and Is This Desire? that this gig was touring, and not my favourite album. However, I got my money's worth as Ms Harvey unleashed ‘Dress’, ‘Missed’, ‘Hook’, ‘Highway 61 Revisited’, belting them all out, peaking it with ‘Snake’ for the end her of the main set. Then the encore finished up with ‘To Bring You My Love’. Nice. Twleve quid? Is that all? Bloody hell. She is simply one of Britain’s best recording artists. Bonus at this show was that the support act was Dirty Three, who were stunning. Warren Ellis gyrated like a loon while paying his violin, gobbing straight up in the air, whooping occasionally, generally animating an instrumental act to, well, plain mental. Best part was when some wag in the front yelled out “Where are your lyrics?”. Ellis turned on him, dug into his pocket for some loose change, throwing it in the direction of the heckler with a scornful “In case you haven't worked it out yet, mate, we don't have lyrics… so fuck off to the bar”. Such good memories of this gig. I think the best thing about Harvey for me, is that she still kicks arse now, she still pushes herself creatively, she just keeps getting better, and if you have not heard her last album, 2011’s Let England Shake, you are really missing out. Hard to pick a song for this gig, there were so many good tracks, so I think it will have to be one of Is This Desire? that merges the big rolling basslines of To Bring You My Love, and the raw rhythm guitar that is her signature: ‘A Perfect Day Elise’ Thankyou, PJ Harvey. You delivered twice over.