OnlineRock Blog

30 April 2011

PJ Harvey at Coachella, Sunday April 17, 2011

By Cody Goodfellow

Bucking Coachella's tidal wave of New Wave nostalgia, PJ Harvey instead turned her set into a batty folk music netherworld. Clad in an elvish white gown and a feather-cloud headdress, Harvey clutched a zither to her bosom as she sang "Let England Shake," the unsettling title track from her new disk. Striking the perfect tone for the exhausted evening, Harvey's combo was sedate, but hardly soothing. From "Down By The Water" to "Billy," Harvey emphasized the quietly sinister craziness in her catalogue, while her backing players worked with muted drum and marimba sounds, as if producing the only handmade music on the whole polo field at the time was something to be kept secret. Their mature, complex sound was clearly doomed, however, with the imminent arrival of Kanye West on the main stage. Looking radiant but disengaged as the set drew to a close and the booming of absurdly amplified grunting began to overwhelm the mix, Harvey gamely took up a guitar and turned up her amps for a couple raucous yet well-aimed parting shots: "Big Exit" and "Meet Ze Monsta."

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