Part of the Babies Tour.
There are no recordings in circulation.
This concert was apparently the first time Pulp's management team, Geoff Travis and Jeanette Lee of Rough Trade, saw Pulp play.
I was 17 when I heard the countdown start, it started slowly, and I thought it was my heart. It's all coming back now! Pulp are all about the way we were, about yesteryear, about things unforgotten, unforgiven and unfulfiled. "Being an anachronism of any kind..." They're history, they're sex education, they're your life! You want more? 10... 9... 8... 7...
We find ourselves hemmed into a barn called East Slope Bar, somewhere in the middle of this small town they call Sussex University Campus, at least four different groups of studes are talking about James Joyce, the queue for the bar is five deep (that's three people and two of just hormones), and the poster describes Pulp as 'Glamourous Indie-Camp'. Yeah! This evening can't fail. 6... 5... 4...
The band file onto the tiny stage, some bar steward shouting "Shut the fire exit so we can get the smoke going!", Jarvis Cocker as ever resplendent in the world's ugliest suit, Duran Duran top and Tony Bastable haircut. Candida pokes the mighty Stylophone atop her comedy Rick Wakeman keyboard tower, Russell begins to jerk off his violin and 'She's A Lady' ejaculates into shameless, sincere, stompastic life. Pulp have come to play some music for us. 3... 2... 1...
Halfway through new bruiser 'Pink Glove' the lights go off, the music dies, the Stylophone no longer makes those salacious squirting noises, Nick's drums grind to an embarrassed halt. Ooops. The studes ought, at this point, to strip off and riot naked - they don't, of course, but some of them kind of 'Boo!' and stand around and recommence the Joyce conversations. Call the cops!
How '70s of Pulp to have a power cut, I know, but let's not marginalise them the way Denim demand to be. Once restarted, huge, sweltering synth blockbusters like 'Mark Of The Devil', 'OU' and 'Countdown' make of mockery of the mockers.
'Glass' (so-called because Pulp think it sounds like Philip) gets worked up about sisterly rivalry, 'Styloroc' paints a picture of perverted Suburbia, and as for 'Babies' . . . phew. Their new and very, very best single, is gawkward, seedy, memory bliss - "The NME says it's good!" calls one member of the crowd, "What more can you ask for?" deadpans Jarvis - and everyone's twisting again like they didn't do last summer. Unforgettable.
Time is running out for Pulp. Any minute now, they'll be your sister's favourite band, and your sister's friend's, and that bloke called Dave from the garage up the road. Have their babies now.
"Yeah yeah-yeah yeah yeah yeeah," as their best line goes.
I worry about Jarvis Cocker at times, here's a man whose idea of safe sex seems to be hiding in a wardrobe watching his girlfriend's older sister shagging her boyfriend after she gets home from school, a man for whom the rhythm divine means the shuddering of tower blocks on a Sheffield estate as hundreds of couples simultaneously copulate. Sick? Au contraire. Pulp's ineffable charm means they belong to an altogether more innocent age, a time when words like unisex and get-up were an indication of your hipster rating and "Shaft" predated the miners' strike. Those were the days.
Nostalgia isn't their bag, though, however much they cherish their copies of Barry White's greatest hits or Isaac Hayes' blaxploitation movie scores, and notwithstanding the fact that Jarvis' teen hero was quite possibly Tom Jones, Pulp are monumentally groovy, and every tune they play tonight is a perfect pop paradigm winking wittily and shaking its funky butt. Songs like the voyeuristic Babies, Live On and Mark Of The Devil are small and perfectly-formed melodramas set in Sex City, theme music courtesy of a stylophone and a magnificently maudlin violin that several times threatens to launch into "Hava Na Geela".
Despite the gentle self-mockery, the dazzling sartorial style of their frontman (black velvet flare suit at 110, and rising) and the fact that they clearly love this performance lark, they are not a cabaret act and there's not a whiff of kitsch about them. Well, not a lot. I have yet to hear another song which manages to mention both Dralon curtains and Brit-nylon underwear - the raucously cheerful Styloroc. But then I've yet to hear another song which can have me frugging frenziedly down the front in the sweat and the choking fug from the smoke machine like this does.
With their impeccable grasp of the difference between the humorous and the hammy, and their hopeless love of all things razzmatazz, they have got this multi-coloured goodtime thing pretty much sewn up. Pulp are perky, persuasive and slightly improper. Perfect