Contemporary pop icons, I don't know - give 'em one Maltster and they'll take the whole bag. Give 'em a string of fine 'n' dandy electro pop singles, a stage and a partisan audience before them and are they satisfied to impart their lewd musical tales of seedy Sheffield, rip off The Human League, shimmer in their retro threads and revel in the motliness of their crew? No, their singer has to try on the old stand-up routine into the bargain.
Jarvis Cocker's wit is intrinsic to Pulp's appeal, the way that BMX Bandits wouldn't be half the class entertainment they are minus Duglas and his idiosyncratic observations. Jarvis is Duglas with a naivety bypass and a cynicism transplant. He's a master of timing, remonstrating with the band when they jump their cue and interrupt one of his sardonic monologues.
It's bizarre how rapt the crowd become when the music dies and Cocker gets that reflective twinkle in his eye. Which intriguing juncture of his life story is he going to divulge next? During one particularly lengthy anecdote which culminates with Jarvis and some local neds in his car, listening to rave music and eating chocolate limes, a voice from the front rows asks 'were they milk chocolate or plain chocolate?' I mean, presumably this isn't his biographer assiduously checking her material. She's genuinely interested in the finer details of the Cocker aesthetic.
So it takes Pulp a decade to visit Scotland, and then in the space of one year they go from entertaining a mildly appreciative audience of double figures to regaling a capacity crowd lapping up their every utterance, gagging to know what lights the group's collective candle. Their adept 'borrowing' from early 80s synthesizer outfits is praised as some kind of stylistic coup, but Pulp were there at the tail end of that flamboyant era. It occurs that they're still playing the same old song after all these years. But then they play the tumultuous, orgasmic 'O.U.', Jarvis throws his Alvin Stardust hand gestures and all scepticism vanishes.
No recordings in circulation.