Review: ‘Pj Harvey; David J’

She stood still, hardly moving from one place, her face expressionless.

She stood still, hardly moving from one place, her face expressionless.

Yet the critically acclaimed Indigo/Island Records’ Polly Jean Harvey and band, hailing from the English village of Yeovil, took on the Whisky for the second time this year, commanding every audience member’s absolute attention. Not three words were spoken during the entire set, and two were used to quiet a heckler in the audience.

Band members Stephen Vaughan and Robert Ellis ground out songs and arrangements in a rhythmic, hard rock fashion that explored distortion and dissonance, with unsynchronized snare pops or unusual time signatures spicing the music, culled mostly from the debut album, “Dry.”

Atop the musically intensive outburst, Harvey’s vocal temperament vacillated between meek vulnerability and empowered rage, her voice trembling in an anguish-filled whimper at moments and blaring in a fully-fueled clamor at others.

The trio’s lyrics are of particular interest, as they take a gutsy, unadulterated plunge into sexuality and relationships as seen from the 22 -year-old singer’s perspective, with a degree of humor amidst passions and pain.

Opening for PJ Harvey was bassist David J, formerly of Bauhaus and currently of Love and Rockets, supporting his debut MCA solo album “Urban Urbane,” a project dedicated to his extensive travels and sobering observations during same.

A thin, angular, animated David J offered groove-oriented jazz and minor-key mystery with a somber, soulful voice.

Pj Harvey; David J

(The Whisky; 450 capacity; $ 12.50 top)

Production

Promoted by GoldenVoice and KROQ. Reviewed Nov. 25, 1992.

Cast

Band: PJ Harvey, Stephen Vaughan, Robert Ellis.
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