[Over Space intro...] "Hello there. Yes, we're Pulp, I can't deny it. We're here to play you a few songs. Now the first song we're playing this evening is all about a little journey we went on quite recently, we went for a ride in a space shuttle and we went into the furthest reaches of space. We went through the Van Allen belt, we saw asteroids, we passed beyond the reaches of the solar system, and to places where there was no atmosphere, we were looking to make contact with other life forms, but then we decided to come home. We thought, well, space is all very well, but it's nothing compared to west London..."
"Everybody in a good mood this evening?"
"That's good. I am too actually, by the way, in case you're interested. Anyway, here's another song for you, it's called Death II, here we go..."
"Thank you very much. Now, I'll have a bit of water, see I'm prepared. Usually when we play concerts, you've got plastic glasses, which are rubbish, 'cos you know, as a performer you like to move around a little bit and you do tend to knock them over. Now tonight I've got the bottle with the cap on, so I can be as much of a tit as I want to be, and I can knock it over, and the liquid will still be inside the bottle. It's taken me a few years to learn that ladies and gentlemen. Just thought I would share that with you."
"Okay, this song is quite new, so we might make a mistake - see if you can spot it. Here we go..."
"Yeah, well, perhaps I shouldn't have said that, we did have a few problems there, but I mean... hey, it's live music - as I always say, you know - you put a record on, unless you've got a dodgy record player or there's some fluff on the record then it's going to work properly. You come to a live venue, you see a live band - we're human, you're human - mistakes can happen, that's all part of the process. Yeah, it's a good excuse."
"Anyway, what's this song called now then? Love Is Blind, here we go..."
"Okay, listen - a sad song now, yeah? Sad songs say so much. This one says a lot."
Someone in audience: "Separations!"
"That's right, yeah. Here we go. Unfortunately, we're not giving prizes for people picking out songs. This song's called Separations, and it's about splitting up, which is a thing that happens, you know: You get together with someone, and you have the best of intentions, sometimes it doesn't quite work out, anyway, here we are Separations..."
"Thank you. Actually, we've got another sad one now, is that alright? We're not going to depress too many people are we? Are we going to depress you?"
"You can handle that, yeah, you're adults. Okay, this song is called Don't You Want Me Anymore?..."
"Okay, I'm going to play the guitar."
"This song is about, erm, having sex while you're still at school. It never happened to me, but I do believe it does happen..."
"Okay, here we go. I start this one off, that's why we've got a bit of a gap there. Soon we'll be able to afford tapes and stuff like that and then it will be seamless."
"Alright, here's another one about a sad relationship. This is one... we've been through all the palaver of ending it, yeah? And now you've got to think of something else to do, yeah? You're not going to sit around at home and, you know, feel like a sad get. So obviously you want to kind of fill your life with something else, so you feel you don't really rely on one person too much. But it's not so easy, 'cos you're used to being with someone for quite a long time, so you're thinking in a kind of thing of two people all the time. So this is a song to help... some people in this room, right now, might be in that situation. I hope this is going to help..."
"Alright, here's the last one. This is called Countdown this one, and, err... I hope you like it."
"That's it, good night, thanks a lot. Bye bye."
Group in audience: "My Lighthouse!"
"Alright, here we go. This is a song called My Legendary Girlfriend..."
"Yeah, that's it, thanks very much."
An audience recording exists.
To hell with careful qualification, Pulp are magic and Jarvis Cocker is a star.
Pulp have a curiously hybrid funky drive behind a dozen excellent pop tunes, imagination and wit enough to have invented pretty much their own aesthetic, and the good grace to want to slap a smile on every face in the place. You might want to argue that the music's been recycled, but if it has been, this is style with its handle-bars bent and the front wheel thrown away, careering off on its own favourite nostalgia trip and knocking off Barry White, Isaac Hayes and the golden days of The Human League on the way.
From tonight's opener, the stylophone-led instrumental "Space", to the gloriously cheesy Brighton pier-style keyboards that bleep and bubble throughout, and the appearance of a violin sound fit to grace any fifth-rate Romanian hotel dining room, you gather that, sure, Pulp are taking the piss. But it's out of the idea of performance, of the corny glamour of the whole showbiz thing, not out of the music itself. Pulp are not a bunch of cabaret clods with a fondness for the kitsch and the campily cute, they write damned fine pop songs which they choose to deliver with a nicely mocking sense of occasion.
They are led in this by Jarvis, a man whose sartorial sense is as stunning as his impeccable taste in techno-pop. Fascinatingly thin, he is dressed tonight in a fake denim bomber jacket with cutaway sheepskin lapels, and swivels dramatically about in perfect groin-jutting parody of every lurv god who ever whispered seduction down a mike. Except that with song titles like "Separation", "Love Is Blind" and "Don't You Want Me Anymore", Jarvis marks himself as something of an Aberfan mining disaster in the field of sexual relationships.
Pulp-appeal is undeniable, though, and there's a Lushette grooving down the front, so there must be something in it, right?
"Pulp is... wearing suede trousers with nothing on underneath... doing a wheelie on a Raleigh Chopper... going to the supermarket in a lurex jumper... being very knowledgeable about antique glass..."
The small yellow brochure placed strategically around the venue lists 44 Pulpish things to do, and it doesn't even scratch the surface. When Pulp take the stage they bring with them a glut of possibilities.
We have a bass player in a turtle neck sweater and a haircut that has no rightful place in this world. We have a guitarist, Russell Senior, who looks like all the Velvet Underground crossed with David Byrne. But floating above all this is the religious experience that is frontman Jarvis Cocker.
Jarvis wears clothes so unfashionable his body seems to be revolting against them. His jacket looks like a sheep turned inside out. His jeans travel so far up his back they form a relief map of the lower part of his body (hubba!). He dances with the same graceless beauty that Nicolas Cage displayed in Wild At Heart - all karate kicks and hand-chops. And he's forever pointing at something.
Visually, Pulp are so fascinating that it's a shock when your mind returns to the music. They are The Fall in Las Vegas with the added bonus that Jarvis unlike Mark E Smith can form whole sentence. Space features Jarvis on stylophone sounding suspiciously like My Bloody Valentine. Separations opens with Fiddler On The Roof style grief from Russell's violin and then switches without warning to Candida Doyle's playschool synth (which, in technological terms, seems one step up from the stylophone).
At a time when you'd require more than Vicks Vapo-Rub to keep up with the current bpm rate, Pulp are a flaming spaceship returning to a time when dancing wasn't just exercise with cigarettes. They are such a good time you might just die watching them.
And Jarvis Cocker, in case you missed the clues, is God.