WORTH A LOOK?: ***1/2
WHEN?: Tuesday 9 November 2021, touring until 12 November 2021
SETLIST: She’s A Lady; House Music All Night Long; Slow Jam; Fat Children; Am I Missing Something?; Sometimes I Am Pharoah; Big Julie; Swanky Modes; C**** Are Still Running The World; Must I Evolve?; Children Of The Echo; Further Complications; Aline; My Legendary Girlfriend
We haven’t seen Jarvis Cocker live for a quarter of a century and when we last did his band Pulp were headlining V Festival in Essex but it felt, for us at least, that they’d peaked with the appropriately titled Different Class album.
- Read on for reasons including who gets a mention ahead of song C**** Are Still Running The World
A confession: we went through a 90s phase of seeing Pulp at every opportunity we could – Glastonbury, Reading Festival, Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London in 1994, Glastonbury, Mile End, Exeter Uni in 1995, and finally V Festival in 1996 As well as occasionally dressing as Jarv Did (check us out resplendent in our finest Pulp charity shop gear circa mid 90s on the left in the final picture in this piece).
Fast forward 25 years and we’re in the part of London synonymous with Britpop and 1 of Pulp’s biggest hits Sorted For Es and Whizz: ‘Got some tickets from some f***** up bloke in Camden town.’
Cocker has a new band playing as the snappily titled Jarv Is and a prog rock-ish, newish album called Beyond The Pale, an album of the week for us last year, of which we said: ‘The good news then is that there is enough here for even the most die-hard Pulp fans to think Jarvis Cocker’s best days might not be behind him. If we’re contemplating resurrection, his initials aren’t JC, as he himself has memorably remarked, for nothing.’
Opener She’s A Lady is 1 of 2 lesser known Pulp tracks in tonight’s setlist and it’s a reminder of the band’s grasp of top-notch pop hooks combined with Cocker’s occasionally seedy but often laugh-out-loud lyrical flourishes: ‘I was hanging by a thread and then I met her. Selling pictures of herself to German businessmen.’
Cocker’s a congenial host and there’s much between-song banter about the shared experience that was Covid and how many assumed mistakenly next song House Music All Night Long was a reflection on the pandemic with its prescient: ‘Saturday night, cabin fever in House Nation, This is One Nation Under a Roof, ain’t that the truth? Goddamn this claustrophobia ‘Cause I should be disrobing ya.’
New song Slow Jam is next and Cocker explains Jarv Is is all about experimenting with live music and adapting songs depending on audience reception and we prefer the alternative title (Bad Friday) because it’s a lyrical twist on that other JC (Jesus Christ) and Good Friday.
The best songs on Beyond The Pale are the catchy if overlong Am I Missing Something? (‘It’s about FOMO. Is that a new type of footwear?) and Must I Evolve?
Jarvis can’t help but reference England’s Prime Minister and his COP26 travel ahead of solo single Running The World and we enjoyed the reference to ‘Covid curves’ also ahead of Fat Children as Cocker observed lockdown for some meant endless pilates while for others it was about bingeing on Celebrations.
Towards the end of this gig he ruminates on how often it has been postponed (3 times we think) and there’s a chance to revel in a niche cover as part of the soundtrack for new Wes Anderson film The French Dispatch.
Cocker didn’t really play the songs we wanted to hear from him most but has an engaging personality and dances up a storm with his elongated arms pulling bird poses as he stands on top of the speakers.
But his willingness to change must be applauded and we loved the story about the gig venues he’d played and how they’d been converted from other less interesting uses.
Jarv Is is then a band with some similarly interesting songs and we definitely won’t leave it anywhere near so long before seeing Cocker again in whatever musical incarnation he is in.
- Picture by Victoria Wai via Facebook courtesy Jarv Is Tickets
- Have you heard any of these songs or seen any of these shows? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
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