Behind a monolithic family crest, PJ Harvey came to Metropolis touring The Hope Six Demolition Project. Backed by a 9-piece band that included Mick Harvey (of The Birthday Party and Bad Seeds fame since the dawn of time), they came upon the stage like a gothic marching band, smashing parade drums and dressed like gentlemen.
The Hope Six Demolition Project could be called a concept album, in that its songs are based around the political-economic crises ravaging human existence. A complex, ambitious subject to be sure.
Older fans who remembered Harvey from the 90’s (I have Uh Huh Her at home on CD, and it gets played obsessively) might have been surprised by Harvey’s new(ish) foray into the domain of human politics. But real fans of Harvey and fans of music-as-art, in general, will understand that artists are constantly in a state of evolution and everything they create and express will be an extension of that chameleon life.
PJ Harvey is also almost fifty years old. I say that because this is her 9th album, and PJ’s patchwork discography is incredibly varied.
I also say that because PJ Harvey is an ageless inspiring beacon. As she gracefully waved her white hands around in the blue lights, her long beautiful gams gleaming from beneath a very mini leather miniskirt, I was filled with a deep sense of gratitude. It’s not just a Beef-Jerkied Iggy Pop who can age on the stage. Women have a valid and impactful place in the music industry at any age, and in any way they want. Nobody represents that more wholly than Harvey.
Demolition, of course, will bring the critics to the forefront. The louder someone speaks out, the more desperately people will try to find that speaker’s hypocrisies. The hypocrisy that caught my eye the quickest was that Harvey was singing about “changing the world,” while wearing an entire murder of crows on her person. How many birds died for that outfit, girl? Come on.
Endlessly compelling and re-inventive, PJ Harvey got heavy at Montreal’s Metropolis on Friday, April 14 and Saturday, April 15th.
I, on the other hand, want to talk about the Montreal concert I saw, and what happened therein. Memorable highlights included the flawless way in which PJ ripped a sax that was the same size as her. I also appreciated the musician behind her who was ripping two saxophones simultaneously. Being in the presence of Mick Harvey was also as much a privilege as seeing PJ herself because god knows he’s done some cool stuff, most of which I am too young to even talk about respectably.
It can get a little awkward when high-profile musicians get political – remember Imagine by John Lennon and Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Greenday? When Harvey sings:
But do you see that woman, sitting in the wheelchair?
With her Redskins cap on backwards
What’s that she’s singing?
As from inside a paper wrapper
She sips from a bottle
A new painkiller
For the native people
Stream PJ Harvey on her Grammy Nominated album The Hope Six Demolition Project now!
In her song Medicinals, I want to say Fuck you, PJ Harvey, what the fuck do you know about the medicine of our ancestors and descendants? How about you take a fucking lap bud?
But then I remember that she’s got money. And if she feels so strongly about the Indigenous peoples of North America, maybe she’s giving some of this tour money to, say, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women funds. Maybe she’s helping out on some of our reserves. I’m sure she is. I’m sure she will. At least she’s not just a Facebook activist like most of us.
Anyway. The concert was a hit. It was orchestral and epic to the point of theatrical and isn’t that just a microcosm of human life.
Musician and writer, Ceilidh likes to provoke your thoughts, make music, and challenge anyone who takes life too seriously. Her favorite quote from Lester Bangs says it best: “The real question is what to live for. And I can’t answer it. Except another one of your records. And another chance for me to write.”