In 1993 PJ Harvey visited The Tonight Show With Jay Leno while she was touring to support her raw second album Rid of Me, which of course had been produced by Steve Albini. The date for this appearance seems to have been September 24, 1993. It was the first time she had ever been on The Tonight Show but she would return many times. The other guests that night were Michael Richards and comedian Kathleen Madigan.
Harvey’s performance of “Rid of Me” has hardly dated a jot since those years. She has no trouble securing our attention. Her vocal delivery is impeccable, mixing in the tricky falsetto “Lick my legs, I’m on fire” sections.
Harvey wasn’t using her trademark blue eyeliner yet—that look was unveiled at Glastonbury in 1995—but her selection of a simple one-piece gold skirt is a perfect expression of her self-defined individuality and projected carnality.
After her song, Leno’s limp comment to this unsettling ditty is “Very nice.” Harvey joins the “panel” and with total comfort and assurance, explains that even though she might be a rock star now, her parents run a sheep farm in Dorset and when she visits them she has to pitch in, and her tasks sometimes include “ringing testicles” and the like. Leno, who was under no small compulsion to keep the proceedings on a level that the average 10-year-old can handle, this despite the fact that his show is on at midnight, deserves credit for not collapsing into a puddle.
Oh, just watch it!
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
PJ Harvey: Stunning live set from Benicassim Festival 2001
Soulful performance by PJ Harvey: Live in Paris, 1998