"A taxpayer is someone who does not have to pass a civil service
exam to work for the government."
P J HARVEY & TRICKY
Live at Pumpehuset, Copenhagen
May 7th 1995
heard and commented upon by Casper Falkenberg
The Seattle wave is dying.
I know that any Nirvana and Pearl Jam fan reading this will want
to do many nasty things to me (like making me smell of teen
spirit or spinning me into a black circle) because of that
statement, but just to make it absolutely clear, I'll say it
The Seattle wave is dying.
The disappearance of one musical trend is always the cue for the
appearance of another one. So what's new, what's trendy?
The Bristol wave is rising.
I know that any Neil Diamond and Frank Sinatra fan will want to
throw many cocktails in my head because of that statement, but
just to make it absolutely clear, I'll say it again.
The Bristol wave is rising.
We want noise, we want originality, we want lyrics that really
say something. We want Portishead, Massive Attack and Tricky.
What has all this got to do with P J Harvey? Nothing. Except for
the fact that on the 7th of May, P J Harvey and Tricky played a
double concert at Pumpehuset in Copenhagen. The ticket said "P J
Harvey with support by Tricky", but Tricky played longer than
your average support band, so as I see it, it was a double
concert. Not that people had come to see Tricky. Portishead
played in Copenhagen a few days later, so the true trip-hop fans
were still waiting for that on the 7th. First of all because
Portishead were coming to play a full concert and secondly
because Portishead is the most popular trip-hop band in Denmark,
which in my opinion is well-deserved. They have by far the best
and most fluent sound of the three trip-hop groups I have
Trip-hop? That's what they play in Bristol these days. A noisy
mixture of electronic and rock music, singing and rapping and
mostly at a dozy pace. A sound of very pi**ed off people on acid.
A sort of humble anarchy. Hard to describe really, so I'll stop
The people who were gathered in Pumpehuset on the 7th of May
were there to hear, see and worship the controversial British
artist P J Harvey, who has become a huge name in only a few
years. Her latest album "To Bring You My Love" is a wonderful,
dirty mixture of acoustic ballads with evil and ironical lyrics
and indie-like noisy electric guitars and screaming. Considering
that Miss Polly Jean Harvey writes all her material herself, the
songs on "To Bring You My Love" cover a large spectrum of genres.
From the almost mainstream "Come on Billy" over the wild,
uncontrollable "Long Snake Moan" to the filmic, Twin Peak-ish
The expectations were high as the male vocalist in Tricky when
my loyal concert-going companion and I entered the crowded top
floor of Pumpehuset.
They started on time!
While a P J Harvey song was played back at full volume, the
members of Tricky came on stage. The male vocalist walked in with
a cigarette in one hand and a bottle of something in the other.
He headed straight for his microphone and grabbed the staff - he
obviously needed something to hold on to.
The P J Harvey song faded out and the back of the stage was lit
up. The keyboard player turned on a small lamp the like of which
you would find in a sixties living room, and so the scene was set
for this first part of the double concert.
They played about 6 songs from their debut album, including one
encore. The band played well and especially the drummer, who was
wearing an old, worn suit with a flower in the stud hole, proved
that although Tricky's music needs keyboards and sequencers to
work, the classic rock instruments get the priority. As far as I
could hear, no drum machines were used, the drummer took care of
all sorts of percussion - indeed very impressive.
A good band, however, is not enough. You need good material and
good vocalists too. The music was interesting but quickly got
repetitive. Trip-hop is a very specific music style and you can't
help comparing one trip-hop group to the other. Tricky are okay,
but compared to Portishead, they just don't quite make it. That's
the way it is with their recordings, and although Tricky sounded
much better live than on their album, they didn't change the
feeling that we would rather have heard Portishead. This is also
due to the fact that the singing/rapping really sucked. The
female vocalist just doesn't have a very good voice. It's like
Tricky's material, it's okay but nothing special. She did what
she had come to do though - no more, no less. The male vocalist,
Mr. Tricky himself, was a disaster. He was so high he couldn't
remember the lyrics properly. When he got to introducing the band
members he even mixed up their names! And he admitted it too. The
man actually told us that he was very sorry that he couldn't
concentrate, because he had smoked too much (no, not cigarettes).
If he wants to dope himself to pieces in the studio, it's his own
business. If he wants to get stoned, go on stage and then do a
great performance, that's also his own business. But when he gets
on stage, his brain in a mist of funny smoke, and can't perform,
that's when I get angry. It's arrogant towards his audience and
his band that did so well. We might not have come to see Tricky,
but we sure as hell had paid for it, and their performance could
have been miles better if he had been able to stand up straight
without his microphone staff.
Another thing about Tricky that flopped was their stage show.
They tried to create an intimate atmosphere, but soft light in
changing colours in the background, a table lamp and a drummer in
an old suit just wasn't enough. It didn't look intimate, it
looked cheap. And the vocalists? They just stood there. Then they
left. Then came back and just stood there. Then they left for
good. Boring. Very, very, very boring.
Tricky wasn't a complete waste of time, but I can think of many
other new, small bands that could have given us a much better
experience before Miss Harvey.
Verdict: ** out of *****
P J HARVEY
She hit the stage like a comet. In a shining silver dress she
walked in and started singing like she had been born on a stage
(maybe she has?). From the moment we first saw her till she left
after two encores, she was "alive'n'kicking". Although she
masters many different instruments, she had chosen to concentrate
on singing and doing a little percussion when she felt like it.
That was okay. Her band took care of it in a delightfully
primitive manner. Gone was the sophisticated sound of the albums,
we got a sound that oozed joy of playing, and if you closed your
eyes, you could almost fool yourself into believing that you were
listening to a group of street musicians. P J's singing came
through nicely as well. Lucky for us, she had brought along a
good old (and probably very expensive) microphone from the
fifties, and it worked much better than the gear Tricky had used.
Not just technically, but also in the way that the old microphone
was the one prop needed to create the suitable atmosphere on
stage for P J Harvey, while Tricky's lights and clothes didn't
work at all.
P J gave us a mixture of new and old songs and she danced and
screamed and gesticulated while her band played away in the
background, grabbing as little attention as possible. The silver
lady sang her heart out and the only thing we could have wished
for, was that she had chosen a few more fast and wild song. I was
also disappointed that she they didn't do "The Dancer", which
would have been perfect. Leaving us with the sound of "Long Snake
Moan" still ringing in our ears after the concert, was the
perfect choice though.
P J Harvey gave us a great concert and I think everybody got
what they had come for. As mentioned earlier, the expectations
were hight, but I don't think anybody walked away disappointed.
Polly Jean is still searching for her true musical self, and she
has yet to become an artist you can devote yourself to 100% But
given a few more albums and a few more years, P J Harvey could
become one of my favourites.
Verdict: **** out of *****
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.