Live Concert Photography: PJ Harvey at SummerStage Rumsey Playfield 7/19/17
Now if you’ve been frequenting this site for a while, you may recall that back in 1986 City Parks Foundation created SummerStage in the spirt of Central Park’s original purpose — to serve as a free, public resource to help culturally enrich the lives of New Yorkers through live concerts, dance performances, and other cultural events. And although it began with relatively humble beginnings at Central Park’s Naumberg Bandshell, the SummerStage has a long held reputation of an impressive and lengthy list of internationally renowned acts performing across a variety of genres, cultures and styles on their stages, including Sun Ra Arkestra, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Mavis Staples, Elvis Costello, Big Daddy Kane, Seun Kuti, Femi Kuti, and countless others. Over the past two or three years or so, SummerStage’s organizers have ambitiously expanded the festival beyond Manhattan with shows hosted in parks, bandshells and makeshift stages across the city’s four other boroughs.
While the overwhelming majority of SummerStage’s programming is free and primarily donation based, they do host a handful of benefit shows, co-presetend by The Bowery Presents to help support City Parks Foundation continuing efforts to present free arts programming to New Yorkers of all stripes, races and creeds, and as I mentioned earlier this year the lineup for the benefit shows are as impressive as for their regular programming; in fact, you may recall that I was at Rumsey Playfield to catch the legendary and aforementioned Elvis Costello play the first benefit show of the year. And I was recently at the third SummerStage benefit show featuring British singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, writer, poet and composer PJ Harvey.
Born in Bridport, Dorset, UK Polly Jean Harvey — best known as PJ Harvey — can trace the origins of her lengthy and imitable music career to 1988, when she joined local band Automatic Dlamini as a vocalist, guitarist and saxophone player, and although her involvement in the band wasn’t very long, her time in the band lead directly to her meeting one of her longest collaborators, John Parish, who was the band’s frontman. In 1991, Harvey formed an eponymous trio with whom she released her frist two critically applauded albums 1992’s Dry, which featured standout single “Dress” and 1993’s Rid of Me.
After the split up of her trio, Harvey has continued primarily as a solo artist, who has recorded another 11 studio albums, including my personal favorite 2000’s Songs From The City, Songs From The Sea, collaborating with the aforementioned John Parish, former bandmate Rob Ellis, Mick Harvey, Eric Drew Feldman, Thom Yorke, Tricky, Nick Cave, Mark Lanegan, Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions, Flood and a lengthy of others on a variety of projects. Along with that, Harvey is arguably one of the more acclaimed British singer/songwriters and musicians in recent memory — she’s won the 2000 and 2011 Mercury prize for Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea and Let England Shake respectively, making her the only artist to have been awarded the prize twice, while being nominated a total of four times. She’s and also been nominated for 8 Brit Awards, 7 Grammies. Additionally, Rolling Stone named her 1992’s Best New Artist and Best Singer Songwriter, 1995’s Artist of the Year, and listed Rid of Me, To Bring You My Love and Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea on its 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. In 2011, she was awarded Outstanding Contribution to Music at that year’s NME Awards, and in 2013 she was awarded a Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her contributions and services to music.
Harvey made a stop at SummerStage’s Rumsey Playfield stage earlier this month to play a career spanning set, focusing primarily around her last full-length album The Hope Six Demolition Project as part of a select festival dates during the summer. Check out some photos from the show below.