His 'n' Hers UK Tour
Note: this setlist might be incomplete. It comes from a hand-written setlist that was reproduced in the third Pulp Scrapbook and the encore is from the memories section below.
(PulpWiki note: the setlist above has been updated since these memories were added.)
I'm certain that this setlist is wrong or, at the very least, incomplete. They definitely also played His 'N' Hers, O.U. and encored with David's Last Summer. I remember this as Jarvis returned to the stage smoking a cigarette (Embassy if memory serves) after the band had started playing. It was dark and the drags from his cigarette were in time to the opening bars of the song. A girl asked for his 'dog end' at the end of the gig! The 'unique percussion instrument with his microphone and groin', referred to below was when Jarvis inserted the microphone down the front of his trousers and started hitting it through his cords turning it into an erotic crotch drum. I am certain this was during the instrumental section of His 'N' Hers. During this song Jarvis also climbed up to the top of the speaker stacks at the side of the stage, they were pretty high.
It's always nice to see someone succeed when it seemed unlikely. Especially when it's Pulp, who took more than a decade before anyone outside the city noticed they existed.
After this tortuous time they look like finally becoming this area's first proper national pop stars since the glory days of Oakey and Fry.
But whereas those two originally came from elsewhere, Pulp are simply steeped in local history — so it was thumbs down from the stage for Meadowhall and Supertram and thumbs up for the Hole In The Road, while many song characters seem familiar.
When specky-stick-insect-as-sex-symbol Jarvis Cocker posed and preened like the revenge of every kid who nobody fancied at school — at one point creating an unique percussion instrument with his microphone and groin — the large crowd simply loved it.
And the band are no slouches either, with their top ten album His 'n' Hers, proving remarkably strong and versatile. They're getting bigger and better every day, but even if Pulp-mania sweeps the country, you can guarantee their souls will always reside in Sheffield.
A mere twelve years since I last saw Pulp live, and I'd been looking forward to this triumphant return. Pulp, too, seemed to relish their homecoming - no hint of condescension towards the 50% of the audience who'd never heard of them six months ago. Jarvis is on the kind of heavy-duty nostalgia trip I like, though even a Luddite like me had to cringe when he started pining for the Hole In The Road and ranting against Meadowhall and Supertram ("It's turned Sheffield into a building site" - vote Jarvis Cocker, your reactionary candidate in the local elections!). Sadly many there were too young or too new to Sheffield to fully appreciate the deeply symbolic nature of change in Sheffield. For all the seventies comparisons Jarvis's melodrama-out-of-a-crisis style owes more to sixties icons such as Gene Pitney, Scott Walker and the Righteous Brothers. Punk's answer to Tammy Wynette perhaps? No question that he's a genuine star; he has the audience eating out of his hand, or out of his pockets when he starts flinging sweets at them. Rivetting, he's Morrisey with a sense of humour, Mark E. Smith without the complexes, Ian Curtis with life (l don't know if Jarvis ever saw Joy Division but that trademark hand jive looks mighty familiar) and how come charismatic singers always come from the North? No surprises in the material - it's plug the album time. I hoped against hope that they'd stick in a selection from If... or something similarly obscure, but there's a limit to nostalgia's marketability.
Spring Bonk Holiday
A LITTLE something for the weekend, sir?
Simon Price reporting. The Date: Friday April 29, 1994. The Place: Sheffield Sex City. The Proposition: "Pulp are the sexiest band in Britain".
Well, that's wrong for a start. Try "Pulp are the sex-est band in Britain". Pulp aren't sexy. Pulp are sex.
To be precise, Pulp are sex when sex is a slow, but urgent, rollercoaster climb to the teetering brink – a dizzying pause – then a glorious, surging momentum-roll downhill to the end. Think of the way "Babies" builds to the (wondrous) line "I know you won't believe it's true/I only went with her cos she looks like you MY GAAHD!!!" and everything suddenly flows. Think, too, of teasing, mid-coital caesura at the end of "Lipgloss", tonight drawn out for a G-spot-titillating eternity as Jarvis twirls one spaghetti limb to the sky before exploding like some crazy spastic toreador.
Jarvis "Big Dog's" Cocker knows a thing or two about sex. He knows that sex is best in the pm (cf "Acrylic Afternoons"), with the sun dustily breaching the curtains, when you're meant to be somewhere else. He knows, too, that sex is only any good when it's dirty. "I hope all your parents warned you never to accept sweets from strange men," he deadpans, reaching a long arm into a deep pocket, and tossing lollipops to the hordes. Involuntarily, I blurt out a Steptoe-esque "You dirty old man!"
"Just pray that Elvis Costello never writes a song about your life". wrote Chris Roberts recently, but Jarv's unsparing, pitiless, joyless laughter in the face of twentysomething social pretention is way scarier. Everyone here's lipglossed and razzmatazzed-up, everyone nervously wears "Yeah, but he can't be talking about me" expressions.
Jarvis belongs to a generation of which I just caught the end. Remember those cheap scrapbooks in stationers, decorated by red and white line drawings of a racing car, a footballer ... and a rock singer? That's where Jarvis' idea of a pop group comes from (and, as for his dancing, I couldn't hope for better Taylor Parkes' "straight from the Hong Kong Phooey Book Of Kung Fu"). Despite popular misconceptions, and despite the enviably dapper Russell's white placky Banana Splits spex, Pulp aren't Seventies revivalists, they're direct descendants. Pulp lived through the early Eighties, too, the era of Great Northern Pop Groups: The Associates, Soft Cell, ABC and the godlike Human League. (Joanne Catherall is here tonight, and I, for one, am not worthy.) Candida's Farfisa and Stylophone, therefore, are more than mere kitsch accoutrements, the staccato propulsion to every crescendo and climax. This is why the greatest pop music of the Nineties is being made with the musical line-up of Racey.
Pulp in 1994 – already so revoltingly hip that anyone who doesn't like them isn't really worth knowing – are a band whose time has come (yeah, all over the nylon sheet, etc). Top Ten record, colour supplement appraisals, and they've even splashed out on a (most bodacious) neon sign. Tonight's venue – round the corner from where Jarvis lost his virginity – has already been upgraded once to accommodate hometown demand for the local heroes. Next time they ought to consider Bramall Lane. (Well, it won't be needed for anything else.)
There comes a moment in every Pulp show when you decide they're the best band you've ever seen. For me it's "Have You Seen Her Lately?". For this insanely partisan know-every-word audience, it's "Joyriders", "Do You Remember The First Time", "OU", "Pink Glove" ... basically, Cocker's every pin-striped twitch and pre-orgasmic gasp.
Pulp, at last, have arrived. There is a God.
From Pulp Scrapbook Volume 3