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PJ HARVEY; Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, September 4.

Byline: DAVID POLLOCK

Playing two days before the announcement of her Mercury Prize win, Polly Jean Harvey brought a devastating set to Glasgow, which staked her claim as one of the most strikingly original artists working in the UK today.

Beautifully staged, the show moved almost into the realm of the theatrical. While her three-piece band (featuring long-time collaborator John Parish and Nick Cave's fellow Bad Seed Mick Harvey) were perched in one corner under spotlights, Harvey had the rest of the stage to herself.

She used it beautifully. Wearing a striking all-black outfit of almost floor-length coat, boots and feathers in her hair, she, by turns, stood moodily lit from above by a wash of white light or appeared out of total darkness when it was her turn to sing. Playing autoharp, guitar or just singing, Harvey didn't say a word until it was time to introduce the band and say thank you at the end, adding to a sense of ghostly other worldliness.

The 21-song set featured all 12 tracks from her new album Let England Shake, a record that blends echoes of the medieval and the futuristic, despite the stripped back arrangements, offering bittersweet reflections on her home country in the title track, England, On Battleship Hill and The Colour Of The Earth.

There were also a bunch of just as perfectly performed classics from throughout her long career, including Down By The Water, C'Mon Billy and the stunning finale Silence, adding up to a show which represented an incredible artist at the peak of her powers.

DAVID POLLOCK
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 11, 2011
Words:262
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