You can tell a lot about an artist by their audience.
Tonight's were a bracing mix of people that seemed to
represent every stage of Polly's career. There were
the stragglers, dressed down in black and insouciant
expressions (Rid Of Me, Dry) the glamour pusses with
their blood red lips and knife sharp boots(To Bring
You My Love) and the Hoxton media lot in their asymmetrical
combats (Stories…). The collage of the audience reflected
the mix of material that Polly played. "Stories.." is
Polly's strongest album since her revolutionary debut,"Dry"
and tonight's performance reflected that journey and
She opened with "Mansize", a song that has matured with
rage. Shorn of all its ragged Albini-isms,the song still
cracked and dripped with siphoned off energy. Polly
repeated the line "Dose self with gasoline", with nothing
less than fervour in her voice.
A juddering, fearfully robotic "Is This Love" followed.Live,
the song finally seemed to realize its status as "Strangest
choice for a single since 'To Here Knows When'". One
of the songs of last year, "Good Fortune", swaggered
about as Polly and the band lost themselves in a garage
dump full of Velvet and Stooges riffs, powerful stuff.
"One Line" and "The Wind" were equally electric. But
it wasn't until she played "Beautiful Feeling" solo
with just guitar and keyboard for backing that her voice
innocuously revealed itself as the secret weapon. Full
of vigour and warmth it can switch from vulnerable regret
to gritted-teeth venom in one line. The measured vocals
carried over on "C'mon Billy".
"Hair" was resurrected from forever being "just an album
track". Tonight, the band metamorphosed the song from
that to a swampy, dark bull of a song that strutted
through the auditorium.
"Rid Of Me" was played in its 4-track demo guise, just
Polly and guitar. The combination of the two was lethal.
She played the songs menacing riff as she repeated the
line: "Lick my legs, I'm on fire, lick my legs of desire".
Stop. The lights came up, a minimalist ending that had
grand effect. Raw, shocked and gratified, she left the
audience wanting more.
Report by Priya Elangasinghe for Crud Magazine ©