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Watch PJ Harvey’s Spellbinding 2011 Royal Albert Hall Debut

Wearing all black, the singer played the entirety of ‘Let England Shake’

Nick Murray Jul 11, 2014
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PJ Harvey | Photo Credit: Creative Commons / Dave Mitchell

PJ Harvey in 2004 | Photo Credit: Creative Commons / Dave Mitchell

In October 2011, touring behind the then-recent Let England Shake, PJ Harvey played her first two shows at London’s Royal Albert Hall, selling out the historic theater on both the 30th and 31st. Here, you can watch the full hour-and-10-minutes of that first performance, as shot by LoveLive.

Wearing all black and playing autoharp, Harvey opens her set with “Let England Shake” in front of a band featuring John Parish, Jean-Marc Butty and longtime Nic Cave collaborator Mick Harvey. Terry Edwards and Mike Kearsey appear as guests, and the set list ”” 28 songs ”” includes the entirety of Let England Shake as well as earlier tracks like “Down by the Water” and “White Chalk.”

In Rolling Stone‘s review of the album, Rob Sheffield wrote, “All British rock stars eventually make their version of Led Zeppelin III ”” the album where they look to the history and mythology of England for inspiration. Usually, this means pastoral celebrations and druids dancing around the maypole. (Hark, minstrel! Is that a bustle in the hedgerow?) But Polly Jean Harvey, as always, does things her own way, so there’s no celebration on Let England Shake. Even as she sings, ‘Take me back to beautiful England,’ she focuses on war, imperialism and bad sanitation.”

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Later, he concludes, “You don’t have to care about English history ”” or England in general ”” to fall under Harvey’s spell.”


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