Pulp @ Hyde Park: live review
“IS THIS IS A HOAX?”Â
The opening bars of ”ËDo you Remember the First Time?’ dispel the faux rumours created by the band’s artistic element, the band beautifully silhouetted behind giant flashing neon letters spelling out P U L P. But this is one of the strangest of the current crop of retromania projects. Pulp were always the outsiders, misfits and unconformists. So why reform and do the festival circuits? What’s afoot in the camp? It goes utterly against their grain. More later.
Pulp are headlining, but if this was the ”Ëindie’ day of the Wireless Festival then it has all been a bit desperate to be quite frank. Grace Jones had whirled a zimmer frame in the direction of Lady Gaga and The Horrors had drowned us in monotony leaving Pulp to romp home.
“Is there anyone from Sheffield in?”Â Jarvis Cocker enquires as the band launches into ”ËPink Glove’s’ bedroom seediness. Perfect.
A lot of Pulp 2011 is about Jarvis Cocker – inevitable really, but this is no ego infused maniac bouncing a ball of bombastic hubris through the evening air. Nope, Cocker holds the eye by steering a course of self deprecation and wit whilst endowed with the ability to charm the hind legs off a Sheffield pit pony. You can’t take your eyes off him sporting the Oxfam garb which made him something of a fashionista now topped off with thick black framed glasses and a greying beard. He bounds and gyrates his hips across the stage before perching atop speaker stacks resembling some daddy long-legs, ”ÂI’m knackered”Â he exclaims at one point.
We’re all cognisant of the songs of course but it’s the discourse between them which makes tonight something quite special. At one point Cocker repeats ”Ë1989′ becoming more and more warped to the sounds of an 808 acid house synth all squelches and bleeps before letting rip with a klaxon full blast into ”ËSorted for E’s and Wizz’, the song which made him a tabloid hate figure in the mid 90s.
A ripping ”ËDisco 2000′ reminds us that ”Ëup there’s for thinking and down there’s for dancing’. Whilst ”ËBabies’ an early classic covers teenage sexual urges better than any government produced awareness campaign ever could. The Pulp box is full of these sorts of delights. For ”ËI Spy’ Cocker comes over disturbingly sinister. ”ËBar Italia’ and ”ËUnderwear’ bring us back to the seedy kitchen sink drama for which Pulp are masters of.
”ËThis is Hardcore’ is dressed up in red all dark, dirty and sinister followed by a spine tingling version of ”ËSunrise’, which would make a suitable finale to the set of any other revered band, but this bunch of misfits have a cruise missile left in their arsenal – ”ËCommon People’. A song for a generation which should be a doctrine given to every student on their first day of fresher’s week; tonight Cocker uses it’s to gently nudge us in the direction of politic and the increasing polarity of coalition Britain. It’s belted out.
So back to the point of what’s all this about then? Ten years ago Pulp played a triumphant ”Ëfinal gig’ back in Sheffield which, one of the music papers headlined as ”ËCocker’s Last Stand’. Well they are back, but why? The perennial ”ËGreatest Hits Tour’ for the summer festival circuit doesn’t quite sit with the art school background of Pulp, they just don’t do those dubious cash driven bloated affairs a la U2 et al. The question remains unanswered but right now Pulp are more important than ever for those misfits who grew up in 80s Thatcher’s Britain and need a new rallying point as we get squashed by Osborne’s fiscal regime and as protectors of our heritage being trampled on by the likes of X-factor and Starbucks. But for now at least I feel like I’ve left part of my brain in a field somewhere in central London. Pulped.