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Do You Remember the First Time?

September 10, 2011

Way back in November I mentioned that I had got tickets for my sister and I to go and see Pulp at Wireless festival. It was the cause of great excitement. Shortly after this I agreed to go on holiday to Magaluf with my uni friends and somehow forgot that there was a very important date in July that should have been avoided. This was the cause of many a tear and a tantrum. I tried to devise so many plans that would let me do both things without letting anyone down or losing a big chunk of money. Eventually, I resigned myself to the fact that it wasn’t meant to be, I would have to hope that Pulp decided to tour again some other time, maybe in another ten years.

Come July 3rd, I was thankfully not in Magaluf but Bulgaria, although that was little consolation. Although I enjoyed the holiday as a whole, I wasn’t in the best of spirits that day. I wanted to be in a field with my big sister, dancing and singing my heart out to a band I love. Not backhanding moths and being scolded by Bulgarians for not eating their food.

However.

On the way home from the airport on my return, my mother casually mentioned that after the Hyde Park gig Pulp had announced that they would be doing a small tour of indoor venues, including Brixton academy. Due to the wonders of O2 priority booking, my sister had managed to procure two tickets. Would I like to go?

Well yes actually I would.

So, last Wednesday night, that’s what I did. Headed up to Brixton a little earlier than necessary so I could have dinner with my sister beforehand, at Satay Bar, where I had a duck dish, which I really enjoyed. I would recommend this place, good inexpensive food. As it was happy hour I also had a Raspberry and Ginger Caipirinha, I love a good cocktail and this was that.

After that we ambled over to Brixton Academy. It’s my favourite venue, partly because you can see its history as a theatre from the balconies and details around the stage area and partly because it has a decent slope to the stalls area which gives my short self more chance of being able to see. The support act was Baxter Dury (son of Ian Dury of the Blockheads) who was…alright. Not overly offensive but nothing special. I think when your favourite thing about a set is the neon sign spelling out the acts name, something was lacking.

After Baxter had finished came the agonising wait for Pulp to come on. I spent 45 minutes wondering WHY they had put up a mesh curtain, which I now realise most other people in the room probably knew as they had seen one of the festival gigs. Still, I liked the mystery. When they finally came on, following a slightly too drawn out message sequence on said mesh curtain, they were stunning. Although they started ,as I believe they have done at all their gigs in this run, with Do You Remember The First Time?, the set differed a bit from the festival favourites, which because I like that kind of thing, made it feel even more special. Richard Hawley was on hand to provide the guitar on Lipgloss and Wickerman and there were some early tracks, such as Countdown that admittedly I didn’t actually know. (This has been rectified, my Dad fished out his copy of Countdown 1992-1983, the compilation that showcases the Early Years of Pulp. I love my Dad). They listened to audience demand and dropped Live Bed Show in favour of Underwear, which I am so grateful for as it’s almost my favourite song of theirs. The only addition I would have welcomed would have been ‘A Little Soul’ because it is my absolute favourite, but then I can’t have everything. The atmosphere was brilliant, a room full of people who were genuinely excited to see this band and this band only, something that can be hard to find at festivals.


 

And there was Jarvis. I know that Pulp are a group but if you look back into their history, others have come and gone but one constant has remained. It has always been Jarvis’ band. It’s amazing how a middle-aged man from Sheffield, who looks increasingly like a 70’s librarian (actually he’s looking increasingly like my dad, a librarian, circa 1975, shaggy hair, beard, cuban heels…) can still be, to me at least, the epitome of cool. He is the definitive frontman of his generation. At Brixton he was an impressive ball of energy, thrusting and point-flicking around the stage, pausing only momentarily to catch his breath and de steam his glasses before moving on to the next classic song. It was a fantastic reunion show and one of the best gigs I have been to. It’s going to take a lot to top.

Here Jarvis is at Reading festival, giving Julian Casablancas a master-class in how to be a performer.

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