Music review: PJ Harvey

Edinburgh International Festival: PJ Harvey's consciously theatrical Hope Six Demolition Project tour has been doing the rounds for the last year, but it was a privilege to meet this sonic juggernaut once again for the Festival.

Playhouse

*****

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Martial drumbeats and a bassy brass fanfare signalled the black-clad band’s portentous march on stage with Harvey taking her place in the line clutching a saxophone, her original instrument. She is the shamanic star at the eye of the storm, but this was a glorious group effort from her nine-piece male voice band.

Double drums and triple sax were supplemented by tremolo guitar and spindly keyboards to create eerily catchy off-kilter anthems from her Let England Shake album, about the desperate carnage of the First World War and the lessons we don’t learn from history, as well as the spectral folk fragility of a suite of songs from White Chalk, inspired by her Dorset background.

Then she dug into the blues on the virile Ministry of Social Affairs and its oestrogen-fuelled equivalent 50ft Queenie, tightly marshalled but delivered as if on the brink of collapse, before leaving her gothic gospel hymn to the River Anacostia hanging in the air like a requiem for Washington DC and all who depend on her.