West country girl's long-awaited return sees renewed quest for left-field status
EDEN PROJECT, CORNWALL
Friday August 15, 2003
TATE MODERN, LONDON
Monday September 1, 2003
Polly harvey’s first uk appearance in almost two years?and her absence has established her as one of our few home-grown stars in possession of charisma and mystique?takes place at one of our most peculiar venues. Standing within the bowels of the Eden Project, you can’t help but imagine you’re on the set of a ’70s sci-fi movie in which they envisaged the future a little too enthusiastically. Huge bubble-shaped domes, strictly “biomes”, dominate the landscape around the stage, and as the sun sets everything turns a fluorescent green. The design’s intended as a homage to timeless nature, but you feel as if you’re in Dr Evil’s gigantic outdoor lab: possibly aliens are set to invade any minute. When PJ enters wearing something that’s half Aladdin Sane smock, half straight-outta-Essex micro-skirt (is she shooting for postmodern glam icon or ‘ironic’ lad-mag ‘stunna’?), the all-round gaucheness is bewildering, if entertaining.
Perversely, given this’d be a great venue for, say, Kraftwerk, she plays a stripped-down, harsh, retro-bluesy set as part of just a three-piece band, back to basics, ditching the slicker gloss adopted around the Stories From The City…album, and electing to show that she was doing raw and ravaged before The White Stripes were a twinkle in Ren