PJ Harvey at the Roundhouse
It’s the Dorset-born artist’s second of two sold-out shows at the Camden venue, and the atmosphere is palpable, with swathes of fans queuing around the block no less than ten minutes before the star is due to come on stage.
Her latest album, I Inside the Old Year Dying, has been met with widespread critical acclaim for its ghostly and, at times, unsettling undertones, and the first half of the show is very much within this theme as she plays the album in full. PJ Harvey, dressed in the same crisp white dress as the previous night, uses the space theatrically, appearing searching and pleading with her audience, as she moves with ethereal elegance from each side of the stage. The audience in question is noticeably enamoured as they stand still and silent, watching and considering. This breaks momentarily to whoops of recognition when the latest single is played, as its delicate folky guitar notes sweep through the spherical theatre.
We are treated to a band-only rendition of The Colour of Earth for the interlude. Much of Harvey’s work is inspired by her beloved Dorset countryside, which she has previously described as “light and dark, ecstasy and melancholy”.
The second part of the concert brings a ripple of excitement. It’s time for Harvey’s punk-soaked bluesy tones to shine through as she picks up her trusted Fender Jaguar and launches into The Glorious Land. Highlights include Angelene, Send His Love to Me and, of course, Down By the Water. The lighting on stage is used brilliantly, creating giant and deliberate towering shadows of the singer.
Harvey is met with nothing short of adoration from her fans throughout the set, and at one point someone from the crowd shouts from the back “You’re amazing Polly”. There are audible mutters of things like “this is the best ever” as people chatter excitedly between songs. This show feels rather special.
The gig ends with an encore consisting of the emotive C’mon Billy and ending on the perfect White Chalk. Harvey has sung faultlessly – a powerhouse of a voice – whilst remaining stripped back and vulnerable. Until next time.
Photo: Hels Millington
For further information and future events visit PJ Harvey’s website here.
Watch the video for the single I Inside the Old I Dying here: