My God, it actually happened. Pulp played in New York City and you were there. Your friend was there. I was there. Do you remember the first time? Yes, it was a few hours ago at Radio City Music Hall.
This show was everything I hoped for. After I got through my nerves of photographing the show, I was able to let myself scream and enjoy the moment. You almost have to pause and gather your surroundings. Pulp is playing Radio City Music Hall. That's tremendous. Let's do it again tomorrow, shall we?
Believe me, my mind was significantly blown tonight and my brain is a scrambled mess of excitement and Pulp lyrics. It's all I've been thinking about all day. The anxiety was killing me. If you know me and this space, British music is my thing and finally seeing Pulp live was just another notch on the belt and scratch on the bedpost. I think I can die a happy man.
The setlist, Party Hard was surprise:
- Do You Remember The First Time
- Pencil Skirt
- Something Changed
- Disco 2000
- Sorted For E's & Wizz
- F.E.E.L.I.N.G. C.A.L.L.E.D. L.O.V.E
- I Spy
- This Is Hardcore
- Bar Italia
- Common People
- ENCORE: Like A Friend
- Live Bed Show
- Party Hard
Pulp was the sexiest and most stylish of the 90s BritPop bands. Songs like "This Is Hardcore," "Babies" and "Underwear" are come-hither, seduction songs where Jarvis would go down low to tempt his women. Then, when they band cranks up the emotion, it becomes epic and anthem-like. They're probably be best known for Common People, their ode to rich, arty people trying to be like us. Then you have rave-ups like "Disco 2000" (my personal favorite), "Mis-Shapes" and "Do You Remember the First Time?". Jarvis & Co. never held back in the ambition to make songs that were cinematic, loud and over-the-top.
That reflected in tonight's show. Obviously, the high point is Common People, where everyone just went nuts while the lights blinding everybody. I particularly liked This Is Hardcore, where Jarvis climbed the staircase and did a seductive dance with a spotlight. It's one of those, everyone gets your camera-phones out, moments. I was on the opposite side of the house. "Sunrise" was gorgeous with the golden lights bathing the staged. Shooting Disco 2000 left me frazzled and a little sweaty following the action around. The stage show is short of trip down memory lane, where flashes of old Pulp artwork and video images inundate the stage.
As I watched Jarvis prance around on stage and bask in the New York city love, I came to the realization that I might think I'm cool, but I'll never be Jarvis Cocker cool. Let's face it, he is Pulp. The charisma, creativity, artfulness and bombast flows out of his mind and into the music. You can just say "Jarvis" and whole rush of feelings comes out. He's stylish, witty, energetic, self-deprecating and, to the ladies, a tad fetching you might say.
It's an understatement to say that Pulp is nothing with Jarvis Cocker. The others are just background players to the main attraction. As much I hail Steve Mackey and Candida, they just stand back and let Jarvis run the show. There's barely any interaction among the band. Thus, Jarvis is the focal point of the whole show. I have no complaints about that. He waxed philosophical about being in Radio City for the first time, the inspiration behind "Bar Italia" (I've been many times), F. Scott Fitzgerald, being from Sheffield and old beds. Even better, he gave a shout out to Adult Swim's Venture Bros. for using "Like A Friend". Go Team Venture!
I'm sure you were like me when you saw that Pulp had reunited last year to play a handful of the great European festivals like Primavera, Leeds, Reading, Oya, Glasto, Wireless and T in the Park -- what about us? We are just lonely isolated Americans who never got to see Pulp in their prime. We need BritPop nostalgia anyway we can get. Blur never came, Oasis and Supergrass are done, and the Stone Roses haven't made a peep about coming here. Pulp answered our cries, and we are better people for it.
It's kind of an unlikely occurrence when you think about. Pulp never had the success in the states that Oasis had. They didn't have a breakthrough song that permeated into the culture. Their albums were known to a select group of taste-makers, music enthusiasts and those in the know -- basically, smart people with good taste in music.
As I pointed in 2010 when the reunion was announced, Jarvis was in attendance atthe Blur Hyde Park shows. James McMahon of The Guardian wrote a telling observation --Last year, like many people who were 15 in 1995, I went to see one of Blur's reunion dates at Hyde Park in London. So did Jarvis Cocker, who stood behind me for the entirety of their set with a look on his face that can only be described as quizzical. At the time I wondered if his trousers were too tight, or if he was just confused over why Damon Albarn and co had chosen to play Trimm Trabb. Now I think he was probably just trying to decide whether he fancied a piece of the pie too.
It happens. You have a yearning to recapture the magic, gain a new legion of fans and make a crap ton of money. Maybe, record some new music with old friends. I've always been a little hesitant with reunions in general. I tend to picture a bunch of old guys in clothes that they are too old to rock in pretending to like each other. The audience is bunch of old, fat goobers trying to recapture that feeling of 20 or 30 years ago. That feeling does seep a bit with the Blur, Pavement, Verve, Vaselines and upcoming That Dog shows. I think it's best to celebrate the bands for what they are now, and not think that they are trying to create the exact show they has back at their prime. Or, I can just shut up and enjoy my favorite songs live and with my friends.
Thus any of my reservations or hangups go out the window when the band takes the stage. Did Pulp get old? Do they sound just as good as back then? I don't know. I don't care. I finally saw Pulp, that's all that matters.