Badly Drawn Boy on PJ Harvey
There she is, cool enough to pretend not to recognise me as she ascends the steps to the stage. I think she's very nervous. Someone comments "great shoes". And they're not wrong - shocking pink stilettoes. Harvey is still the coolest, sexiest woman in rock 'n' roll.
I saw her at the Duchess in Leeds in 1991, just after Dry, her first album, came out. She was the first female artist I was fanatical about. She still stands alone. She's the female me, I hope. Actually she's more like Mark E Smith with her bloody-mindedness, her determination to do things her own way, never worrying about where she registers on the commercial Richter scale. I'm guilty of that, I want to be successful, I sometimes think, that to have a No1 single just once would be a laugh at least. But PJ is a true artist, she doesn't care. She's one of the few people in this fucked-up biz that seems really to live it.
I really start to appreciate her new hairdo. A headshaking PJ pouncing like Tigger all over the stage. Every song brings one moment, at least, to remind you that she is unrivalled in her field. There is a puzzling exotic drum kit unmanned on the stage. At first I assume time ran out when clearing away the previous band. Then comes Victory, a two-drummer-tastic version of an early song. Syncopated alternate rhythms supporting Harvey's heartbeat chugging guitar and far-more-powerful-than-they-should-be vocals for such a petite lady.
What we're talking about here is a supremely talented true individual. PJ falls into the hero bracket for me.