We Love Life UK tour.
Additional percussion: Jason and Ross from The Fat Truckers.
There is an audience recording in circulation.
In 1996, after wiggling his bottom at Michael Jackson at the Brit awards, Jarvis Cocker was one of the most famous people in the UK. While his cardboard cut-out loomed ominously over Chris Evans's TFI Friday, Pulp's hits, most notably Common People, captured the Cool Britannia zeitgeist like no other band's. Beneath the songs' anthemic feel and Cocker's deadpan Sheffield humour, the former long-term doler's lyrics were fascinating socialist revenge fantasies, revelling in his triumph over the class system. Feat accomplished, tough, Cocker never took to celebrity, his dismay reflected via hedonism, then reclusion and the fame-knocking 1998 album This Is Hardcore.
Nowadays, Pulp are no longer a truly mainstream band. Comeback single Trees troubled the top 20 only briefly, and pop-tinged artrock rather than Britpop is Pulp's natural habitat. It's no coincidence that new album We Love Life is produced by Scott Walker, who virtually invented the retreat from megastardom.
Pulp's entrance to metronomic beats is reminiscent of experimental Velvet Underground. Cocker enters after the musicians, dazzling the crowd with dance moves and moribund dry wit. In C&A chic, more wicked parody of a sex symbol than actual sex symbol nowadays, he makes outrageous but hilarious remarks about why his cords stretch in certain places. This man will always be a star, whether playing to Glastonbury or a queue outside the phone box.
Tellingly, the set is drawn almost entirely from the last two albums, with Common People a notable absentee. The newer material doesn't aim to tough it out with Kylie; it's subtler and richer, underlining Cocker's status as the finest pop lyricist of his generation. Now 38, his pithy social observations carry the weight of rich experience: "How can a girl have sex with these pathetic teenage wrecks? Football scarves, girls drink halves..." This Is Hardcore is a stunning study on disquiet, Cocker musing darkly on stardom while a film shows a young stripper removing clothes with cold eyes.
Cocker's superstar status may be long gone, but he remains a peculiarly British hero. During six encores, and amid increasing pandemonium, he lifts his ban on the hits just once, for Sorted For E's and Wizz, which is a finer essay on ecstasy than any scientific research. Then he scurries back towards the fringes, happier playing pop's creative Alan Bennett than a scream-inducing Brad Pitt.