By: Paul Familetti
One week before the release of Polly Jean Harvey’s seventh album, Uh Huh Her, she led her band-drummer Rob Ellis, guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, and bassist Dingo (who also plays with the Fall)–through a monumental 22-song set at New York City’s Knitting Factory. Kicking it off with the title track (which, oddly enough, isn’t on the album), Harvey set the tone for the show with a signature dirge. It wasn’t until the band launched into “Big Exit” from 2000’s Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea that the packed house stopped gawking long enough to finally rock out. You could see Harvey smirk slightly as the audience began singing along, but that only left everyone with their mouths agape when she exploded into her signature wail.
The set showcased much of Harvey’s new material, but she took care to intersperse back-catalog gems along the way. Her last tour’s set lists, for the most part, excluded material from Is This Desire?, while this show featured the seductively perverse “Perfect Day Elise” and “Catherine” from that very record. Notably, nothing from her breakout record, 1993’s Rid of Me, made it into the set, but Harvey did unearth a host of songs from her indie debut, Dry, which included the gutsy tracks “Dress,” “Victory,” and a stellar “Plants and Rags.” The oddest moment came during “Down By The Water,” which by most accounts is a fairly dour tune, but Harvey’s band gave the song a surprising electro-pulse treatment.New material highlights included the beautifully subdued, yet ultimately hopeful, “You Come Through” and “Who The Fuck.” After ending her first encore with “City of No Sun”–from her egregiously overlooked collaboration with John Parish, Dance Hall at Louse Point–she returned for a surprising version of “There Will Never Be A Better Time,” taken from her stint with Josh Hommes’ Desert Sessions. Harvey closed out the night with “To Bring You My Love,” which left the audience hollering for more.