With Patti Smith's edge, Chrissie Hynde's power, Martha Davis' neuroses and all the melody of Suicidal Tendencies ... it's no wonder PJ Harvey has become the hottest trio out of England since Cream. The Island debut, "Dry," topped critics' polls in '92; the new release, "Rid of Me," could give a listener sleeping disorders.
Polly Jean Harvey is disturbing. Even onstage, in an unlikely cocktail dress, bare feet and shades, she's threatening. What was that lyric? Rub until it what? Sit on where? Between my ... she didn't really say that, did she?
PJ Harvey's power-trio attack isn't so much stripped-down rock as it is flayed-alive rock.
And in the packed, cavernous Palladium (they've improved the sight lines, but the acoustics still stink), it can be rather draining.
If people started filtering out of the balcony after 30 minutes, it wasn't so much because the show lost steam but rather that the audience did.
Harvey gets points for honest anger, for sheer charisma and for covering "Highway 61" and "Wang Dang Doodle."
She loses points for doing a mere 45-minute set, and then grandstanding for 10 minutes before deigning to do a five-minute encore.
Opening the show -- almost co-headlining, considering that they get much more radio play than PJ Harvey -- were Radiohead, whose "Creep" has become an anthem for the latest generation of disaffected adolescents.
If their single defines Radiohead as the prototypical art school band ("angst music for angst people," as they themselves say), their live show is far more aggressive. Less Cure, more Cult. Much of the material sounds suspiciously like early '80s power pop run through the Distort-O-Master.
Fronted by elfin Thom E. Yorke and boasting three (count 'em) guitar players, Radiohead tore through a 30-minute collection of potential singles -- none up to the level of "Creep," which really is the best song Peter Murphy never recorded.