4th April 2018
@ Williamson Tunnels Heritage Centre
People are often surprised to learn that Pulp were actually formed as far back as 1978. With Jarvis Cocker as the only constant member, they did their first Peel Session in 1981, and released their debut album in 1982. But it would be around a decade later before the Britpop spotlight, in it’s search for Idiosyncratic homegrown talent, shone on them and gave them the success they so richly deserved.
Having since released some solo albums and doing a regular show on BBC 6 Music, a lot of musicians would now be looking at cashing in on their hits, with a lucrative nostalgia tour catering for ageing fans looking back wistfully at their carefree youth.
Whilst there would be nothing wrong with that, Jarvis is of course too much of an artist for anything like that, so here he is on a mini tour of packed-out small venues, with a new band performing brand new songs.
In typical Jarvis fashion, the announcement of the tour was suitably intriguing, clever clues to give you a taste of what to expect, whilst retaining an air of mystery.
JARV is entirely implausible
JARV is a way of looking at the world
JARV is an acronym
JARV stands for something
JARV is louder than you might expect
JARV is two women & three men
JARV is up close & personal
JARV is troglodytic
JARV is a rave in a cave
JARV is a group
JARV is the next best thing
JARV is electric music
JARV is a work in progress
JARV is happening
JARV is ancient & modern at the same time
JARV is playing near you very soon
JARV is an experiment
JARV is a night to remember
JARV is a live experience with no barriers
JARV is …. & always will be
Stage time was 9pm with doors open at 7pm, as you might expect, there was already a good crowd waiting to get in at 7. The drizzle was brightened up when a guy from Deliveroo turned up on his bike “anyone order a deliveroo?”, the queue mumbled “No, not me”. He looks at his paperwork and laughs as if to say “you guys”, “Someone has spent £50 on burritos and given their name as Jarvis Cocker!” rolling his eyes. The audience responding “actually…” fortunately Jarvis and his crew got their food, and we got a good laugh, though you probably had to be there!
The Williamson Tunnels is a bit of a special venue for the gig, not too big, not too small, and the sound was good.
There was a no photography rule in place tonight with the caption “Live in the moment”. Although I had permission to photograph, even I was signaled to stop at one point until I showed the stage manager my permission. I can see both sides of this argument – obviously on the one hand I’ve learned photography so that I can photograph bands, so I totally understand why people want to take pictures, but on the other hand, once I’d taken photographs for my allocated first two songs, it was nice to stand at the back and enjoy the gig without seeing a sea of phones and tablets. In any case, the light was so bad (from a photography point of view) that I struggled with my half decent camera, so it would be very difficult to get a decent shot on a phone. Perhaps gigs should enforce a “2 song rule” for everyone, so that people who want a memento for Facebook can do so during the first two songs, after which it’s strictly no phones, which would go a long way to keeping everyone happy.
Anyway, the gig itself was amazing! “Am I Missing” and “Swanky Modes” were up there with the very best Pulp songs without a doubt. The others were also extremely good, and he finished the set with an encore of “His N Hers” bringing the show to a satisfying end.
He’s still got the moves, he’s still got the chat (even without the music, the chat between songs was entertaining in it’s own right), he’s still got the voice, and he’s still making fabulous music. Full marks to the rest of the band too.
Suffice to say:
JARV is … BACK!