By 1996, following the international success of her 1995 record To Bring You My Love and experimental collaboration Dance Hall at Louse Point with John Parish, Harvey began composing material that would end up on her fourth studio album, during what she referred to as "an incredibly low patch". The material diverged significantly from her previous work and introduced electronica elements into her song-writing. During recording sessions in 1997 original PJ Harvey Trio drummer Rob Ellis rejoined Harvey's band, and Flood was hired again as producer. The sessions, which continued into April the following year, resulted in Is This Desire? (1998). Though originally released to mixed reviews in September 1998, the album was a success and received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Alternative Music Performance. The album's lead single, ‘A Perfect Day Elise,’ peaked at number 25 on the UK Singles Chart, her most successful single to date.
In Summer ’98, PJ played a number of festival dates across Europe – which included a dynamic set at the UK’s V. Festival – following which the entire band decamped to the US where they began a North American tour at Chicago’s Riverside Theatre on October 7th. The tour continued on the West Coast with dates in LA, San Francisco and Seattle, but by the end of the month she was back east, and on November 2nd ’98 played perhaps her finest show of all at Boston’s then named Avalon club, now the site of The House Of Blues

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