Thursday, 7 July 2016

PJ Harvey

Thanks for the question you texted me Laurie Hulme. I’ve seen PJ Harvey play sixteen amazing gigs in ten different cities. I saw her eight times on and just after the “Uh Huh Her” tour when the band included brilliant bassist Simon Ding Archer who has also played bass in The Fall, Black Francis band and Bobbie Peru and currently As Able As Kane and Red Lorry Yellow Lorry. It’s a shame that band never recorded an album. I saw three early gigs when she had her hair in a ponytail and dressed all in black. I saw three solo “White Chalk” gigs, in Barcelona, Madrid and from a seat close to the front at Bridgewater Hall. Perhaps the best gig I saw her play was in Hulme NIA Centre when she and John Parish played the whole of “Dance Hall at Louse Point” accompanied by three dancers who were upstaged by Polly’s movements. I reviewed that one for a local newspaper based in Hulme and so I was on the guestlist as I was for exactly half the PJ Harvey gigs I’ve attended, although I was on the guestlist of L7 for the Cult in the Park one day festival where Gallon Drunk also played, and two of them (James Johnston and Terry Edwards) are in PJ Harvey’s current live band and play on her most recent album “The Hope Six Demolition Project”. So I have seen her play less gigs than Killing Joke, Wire, Thalia Zedek, Shellac, Mudhoney, The Fall, Bardo Pond, Brainiac, Girls Against Boys, Fugazi, Throwing Muses, Pavement, Dinosaur Jr, The Breeders, Leatherface or Therapy but more than Sonic Youth or Swans or Nick Cave or Neil Young. I started writing a much longer version of this but it seemed to be turning into a book and I don’t want to give google copyright.


In 1989 or so I lived in a shitty student house in Toxteth, Liverpool with a geography student called Nick Smart whose enthusiasm for the music he loved was infectious. He was way more into Husker Du than me. I had their last three albums but he had everything and took great pleasure in enlightening me to the emotional rollercoaster Zen Arcade.  I’d only heard a few REM singles but never been that bothered by them but he had all their albums and by the time they released Green I was hooked. Life’s Rich Pageant was their album that really turned me on, beginning as it does with their two most exuberant and joyous songs and following them up with two of their most tragic. When we saw them on the Green tour at Liverpool Royal Court it was so perfect I never needed to see them ever again and never did. They slowly grew ever more bland after Green, but most albums had at least one song worth hearing until eventually they made an album so boring it wasn’t worth listening to twice or remembering its title but it was almost certainly the one after Up if you care which I don’t expect you do. Whilst the Peel session version of Walk Unafraid is the last thing they recorded that I think is worth a listen or three, sounding like it could have been recorded for Green unlike the inferior album version, and Accelerate was OK if unmemorable, their final moment of greatness was this cover of a Leonard Cohen song. I hope none of you are stupid enough to consider me anti-semitic for preferring it to the original.

Everything Turns to Shit, Except Music

During the two weeks at the end of June and the start of July when everything turned to shit I was listening to:

Thalia Zedek Band – Eve (promotional download of new album from

Tom Settle and Friends – Old Wakes 2LP

Flexibles – Pink Everything LP (Richard Youngs with his 8 year old son Soley Youngs)

Swans – The Glowing Man 2CD/DVD

Heartless Bastards – The Mountain CD (2009)

Rhys Chatham – Pythagorean Dream CD

David Grubbs – Prismrose CD

Husker Du – Do You Remember Radio? 2CD (2 gigs 1981/85)

Mogwai – Atomic CD

Sunn O))) – Kanon CD

Boston Spaceships – Camera Found the Ray Gun (4 song CDEP, 2010)

Yo La Tengo – Stuff Like That There CD

Swans – Feel Good Now CD (live 1987)

The Necks – Drive By CD (2003)

Tad – Live Alien Broadcasts

Nancy Garcia – Be the Climb CD (2009)

Bruce and Carl – This is Art (8 song tape)


I watched Under the Skin DVD and I Am Alan Partridge DVD

I read The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel

I listened to live music from Radio Birdman, Bloody Heads, Aggressive Perfektor, Denim and Leather, TV Crime, Exxxecutioner, Destruction Unit, Gnod, Richard Youngs, The Birth Marks, Bruce and Carl, Shareholder, The Rebel, Mica, Elephant Blood, Tom Settle and Edwin Stevens duo, Tekla and Tom Settle solo.