About ten or fifteen years ago, I discovered the rock musician PJ Harvey and the brilliance of her work. This is not to suggest that I made her known to the rest of the rock-listening world, the way Berry Gordy discovered bands like The Miracles and Surpremes. As usual, I was a late-comer to good music. The album “Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea” was highly accessible and still uniquely PJ Harvey. I went out and bought CDs of her earlier work (this was when many people were still paying for music), which was fiercer, like it had been shouted out from a basement window. The Song “Rid of Me” was creepy as hell, reminiscent of at least one relationship I’d been in.
Soon after this, I came to realize that PJ Harvey was playing a show at the Paradise Rock Club, a venue in Brighton, MA that holds less than a thousand people. Of course, as sometimes happens to this aging rock fan, I learned of the show’s existence many weeks after it had sold out in something like 2 minutes. Years later, around the time that Let England Shake was released in 2011, I sought out but couldn’t find anyone to see her with me at the House of Blues and ended up not going. What a stupid mistake! I’m old enough to know that you must get out and enjoy the music whenever possible, even if none of your friends are able to attend.
And now I find myself in the final quarter of 2015, still having not seen Polly Jean live. However, I have an app installed on my phone, a download suggested by the educator formerly known as “America’s Favorite Acerbic High School Principal,” (now Italy’s favorite). The app, called “Bands In Town,” vibrates in my pocket whenever it thinks I would appreciate knowing about a rock show coming my way – which happens a lot less frequently than you might think. In this case, it told me that PJ Harvey would be playing O’Brien’s Pub in Allston. (Did you get that? O’Briens -- a tiny bar!).
After a day or two of fumbling with the app (“sign in with Facebook!” – can’t remember that one; “sign in with Google” – ditto; “sign in with email” – which of the twenty five email accounts could that be referring to?), I went online to the PJ Harvey website, where no shows of any sort were scheduled anywhere in the world. (That’s the kind of life PJ leads).
Eventually, O’Brien’s website provided the demystification: playing on Halloween Night was, among other acts, “PJ Harvey by Mud Dive.” It was a night of impersonation, in other words.
I guarantee that this won’t be the last time “Bands in Town” makes a fool of me.