Pulp @ Hyde Park: live review

Pulp

Hyde Park

“IS THIS IS A HOAX?”

The opening bars of ”˜Do 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 ”˜indie’ 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?” Jarvis Cocker enquires as the band launches into ”˜Pink 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, ”I’m knackered” 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 ”˜1989′ 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 ”˜Sorted for E’s and Wizz’, the song which made him a tabloid hate figure in the mid 90s.

A ripping ”˜Disco 2000′ reminds us that ”˜up there’s for thinking and down there’s for dancing’. Whilst ”˜Babies’ 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 ”˜I Spy’ Cocker comes over disturbingly sinister. ”˜Bar Italia’ and ”˜Underwear’ bring us back to the seedy kitchen sink drama for which Pulp are masters of.

”˜This is Hardcore’ is dressed up in red all dark, dirty and sinister followed by a spine tingling version of ”˜Sunrise’, 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 – ”˜Common 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 ”˜final gig’ back in Sheffield which, one of the music papers headlined as ”˜Cocker’s Last Stand’. Well they are back, but why? The perennial ”˜Greatest 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.

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  1. “The perennial \’Greatest Hits Tour\’ for the summer festival circuit doesn\’t quite sit with the art school background of Pulp…those dubious cash driven bloated affairs a la U2 et al”
    ——————
    I’ve been reading past articles about Jarvis Cocker/Pulp lately and it seems that he does not want to be deified or mystified by being exclusive and reclusive. He says yes to every offer that come his way – “Rolf Harris”, Harry Potter, Bill Maher’s RT, BT, QT, DJ for BBC, and now a book deal from F&F. His lack of discernment disappoint lots of his fans who took him as working class hero but he’s not comfortable with that godlike status bestowed on him. He just wants to be the regular guy. He’s been called out before for his seeming love of the spotlight, and he readily agrees he is an attention whore. I’m not romanticizing Mr. Cocker, but some of his past interviews were a revelation. He wasn’t really sanctimonious after all, kinda bumbling and irresponsible even. It was Russell Senior who was political.
    For years he’s been telling on interviews he has “no desire to do it(reunion),unless you give me a huge wad of cash.” Then there’s this convo of him and Billy Bragg where the latter aired his disappointments abt bands reuniting and Cocker said, “but there are bills to pay?”. He knows that whatever his reason will be for getting his old band back together, people will still think he’s just cashing in on nostalgia. Seeing Jarvis perform, giving his all while risking his life and limbs (he took a tumble in Glastonbury), at this point, does it really matter if these summer shows were all about money and nostalgia?

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