The Seven Best Things Jarvis Cocker, Probably The Greatest Frontman Of Our Time, Said Between Songs At Last Night’s Pulp Show


Last night Pulp, the masters of turning the miniature into anthems that shake the rafters of even open-air concert spaces, played their second of two shows in New York City, their first gigs in our city since 1998, when the band played the Hammerstein Ballroom. Their potent blend of creamy synthpop hooks and Jarvis Cocker’s wry commentary on romance, class, and sex was, as I pretty much expected, absolutely thrilling even though their last album, We Love Life, is 11-plus years old; the vitality present in even the band’s less anthemic songs, like the hangover squint “Sunrise,” coursed throughout the room. Leading the way was Cocker, who I last saw with a green-painted face belting out bare-bones, self-lacerating sex jams. Last night he was in louche-professor mode, posing foppishly on the big beats, swinging his hips just so, drawling out the wistful lyrics of anthems about chances not taken, fizzled relationships, and muddling through the physical and emotional aftermath of drawn-out nights, and—most importantly—doling out aphorisms between songs as if they were delicious, decadent truffles. He didn’t quote the Wikipedia entry about New York the way he paid tribute to Chicago when I saw him solo at the 2008 Pitchfork Music Festival, but he was still full of pearls of wisdom and notable factoids. And I wrote a lot of them down, mostly because I was too busy dancing like a fool during the actual songs to take proper notes; here are the seven best that made it into my notebook.

7. [While introducing “Something Changed,” a sweet love song about the unpredictable nature of romance] “It would be rubbish if we knew when these things would happen… You haven’t come here for a night of spoken word, have you? Sorry.”

6. “That’s one good thing about show business—people clap at you for drinking.”

5. [Referring to the 1998 Hammerstein show] “Is that place still open? Was anybody there? I was… in body, at least.”

4. “Would you like to know an interesting fact? [Plays the riff to ‘Louie, Louie’] The guy who wrote that song, Richard Berry, was born on this day in 1935. [Belts out a little bit of the song] Imagine the world without that riff. So let’s praise Richard Berry.”

3. “Last time I was there, I met a young woman who came from Greece… and you know, we were in a bar after the college one night, and I kind of fancied her, but she was not bothered about me in the slightest. She just made a casual remark which stuck in my mind, and lo and behold, years later, I guess it’s our most known song. And if you haven’t guessed yet, I don’t know why you’re here… but just in case you haven’t guessed what it is, Candida will now reveal it.”

2. “Let’s go to the other end of the spectrum… romance. It does exist, and we wouldn’t recognize it without the other bit. Bright colors on a black background.”

1. [Before “Bad Cover Version,” from 2001’s “We Love Life” and the song that compares an ex-flame’s new relationships to shams like “a later Tom & Jerry, when the two of them could talk”] “Relationships don’t always work out. That’s why we have songs—to get over it.”

Set list: Do You Remember The First Time? Monday Morning Razzmatazz Pencil Skirt Something Changed Disco 2000 Sorted For E’s And Wizz F.E.E.L.I.N.G. C.A.L.L.E.D. L.O.V.E. I Spy Babies Underwear This Is Hardcore Sunrise Bar Italia Common People — Like A Friend Bad Cover Version Mis-Shapes

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