polly jean

The first time pick up a PJ Harvey disc in the summer of �93. Rid Of Me. I buy it because of the cover, in which PJ swings a soaking wet arc of hair over her head. That, and a good review I read somewhere. And over the years, as every new album comes out, I find myself digging into it in a unique, organic way. Each is a different kind of journey. Each has its own set of memories. And in its own way, each insinuaties itself into my life, weaving through the fabric of the days. To Bring You My Love accompanies me on the treks to Monterey in 1995 when Lisa and I maintain our first long distance relationship. Is This Desire? tracks me through the dissolution of that same relationship in 1998. Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea keeps pace with me on the commutes to San Luis Obispo, back when I was houseless and trying to figure out what to do next. And now Uh Huh Her. Los Angeles. June 2004. The Letter. Pocket Knife. The Slow Drug. You Come Through. It�s You. The Darker Days of Me & Him.

I sneak out of work an hour early to meet with Llyr. As the skies threaten rain, we head for the Wiltern and catch an evening with Polly Jean. The show, as one might guess, is amazing:

–I spot James, one of my coworkers, and get him to join us. He�s seen PJ Harvey five times. The last time he ended up backstage at the Henry Fonda Theater with another coworker, and a handful of music celebrities, getting stoned with members of Black Heart Procession. I want those memories.

–She kicks things off with To Bring You My Love.

–A teeny girl tries to drag her boyfriend into the non-existent space in front of Llyr and me and James. We don�t let her in. We CAN�T let her in. The couple next to us is left to contend with her. Numerous times during the course of the show she shows her approval by letting fly a blood-curdling scream. It sounds horrible. I tell Llyr that it sounds like she�s getting stabbed. Llyr tells me she hopes she�s getting stabbed. Llyr has a low tolerance for weirdos.

–PJ dedicates a Fall tune to John Peel, who died today. The tune was written by The Fall’s guitarist, who comes onstage to play it with the band. That same raucous, diminutive PJ fan spends the entire tune screaming the news of John Peel�s death into her cell phone, completely missing the piece. Llyr wants to elbow her in the face. I’m finding it hard to believe she even know who John Peel is. The whole thing is just too amusing.

–She plays all of the tunes mentioned above from the newest album. She closes with the last one. Early in the performance of that tune, which is glorious and slow, something crackles, the sound cuts out, the lights come on, but only for a few seconds, and then we�re back in full pulse. PJ adjusts the lyrics: “And no neurosis/…No power cuts/ And no sadness.” The crowd goes nuts.

We file out of the Wiltern into the night, ears ringing, to find that the sky is weeping.

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