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PJ Harvey at Shrine Expo Hall 8/18/16. Photo by Jazz Shademan (@jzzshdmn) for www.BlurredCulture.com.

Early this year, PJ Harvey released her 9th studio album, “The Hope Six Demolition Project”. Using her sharp global observations of the current social and political landscapes in places like Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington D.C., “The Hope Six Demolition Project” is a heavy album that calls out injustices using rock, blues, jazz and whatever musical stimulus that PJ is able to invoke.

setlist-image-v1On August 18th, PJ Harvey took the stage at the Shrine Expo Hall to a sold out show that beckoned some of her most loyal and excitable fans. The excitement in the air was palpable and like a scratched that record skips over on an endless loop, I overheard excited chatter by her ardent fans about how excited they were to see their muse on stage after so many absent years. The roar of the audience when PJ took the stage was deafening.

For music that is so emotionally and politically charged, I was surprised to find the atmosphere of the show, in general, to be really chill. Upstage were ominously serious, large block panels that were stacked as part of the stage design, and as the room was filled with smoke, PJ Harvey, an angel in black, walked forward, commanding the crowd with her presence as her ensemble marched onto the stage playing their instruments in hand.

I found the audience’s intensity to be serene, like they were lost in thought. The English singer opened up her first night of the tour by playing five songs off her latest album, so perhaps it was the audience getting familiar with PJ’s newest material, and keeping a keen ear on the prose that she was singing.

Clearly, the fans were thrilled to see her live. Everywhere I looked, I saw men and women just staring at the stage with smiles on their faces. There were fans singing along too, but PJ has that certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi” that simply mesmerizes. She draws you in with her eyes and hands, even if you are watching from the back of a huge venue.

The audience became more vocal, cheering and hollering when PJ played fan favorites like “Down By The River” and “50ft Queenie”. PJ came back to the stage for en encore, and the the night ended with “Working for the Man” which in her long career has done anything but.

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