A new generation has discovered the King of the Misfits, and they celebrated his music and showmanship at The Warfield when Pulp came to town. Jarvis Cocker is the awkward everyman, always with sex on his mind. He tells us to embrace our humanity whilst celebrating our freakishness. That’s just what several thousand of us did when we attended the Pulp show at The Warfield. This show sold out in less than 10 minutes, and I’m not sure how it happened, but happily the tickets seemed to have made their way from the scalpers to the freaks with too-short bangs and bespectacled geeks in dark suits that call themselves die-hard Pulp fans. This was a welcome change from the usual elite posers going out to see the current hip “it” band.
I didn’t get to see the opening three numbers, as us photographers had the strange shooting restrictions of “song 4, 5, 6 from center pit.” No matter. All it meant was that Jarvis and crew were already in Hugh gear when we were led down front to get right up in his grill for a song or two. Of course we didn’t shoot Ariel Pink, but given his past temper tantrums and lack of effort, I really didn’t give a toss. He was but an annoying diversion before the anticipated main event.
All elbows and knees, Jarvis showed us what it means to be a real front man. There’s a method to his madness, and it involves striking a pose that oozes sexuality and constant audience interaction. Like fellow consummate performer Chris Isaak, the stories in-between the songs are as much a part of the entertainment as the music.
During these storyteller moments, I am reminded once again that Jarvis is king of the witty double entendre. “I know a lot of time has passed; A lot of things have grown. A lot of things have disappeared. But we’re all still here.”
Jarvis Cocker is graying in the beard and temples, but he wears it ever so well. Glasses dirty with sweat and fingerprints behind his stringy dark bangs, tie loosened about his lovely long neck. He was dressed in a blue velvet suit with high heeled boots, looking like that pervy English lit teacher everyone had a crush on as a freshman in college. But that lit teacher didn’t prance, dance, thrust, grind like Jarvis did on Tuesday night. He and the rest of Pulp were lit from behind by a giant neon P U L P sign behind them.
I do apologize for being so Jarvis centered thus far in this review. For Pulp isn’t just a vehicle for Jarvis Cocker, it is the dynamic of the whole that makes the band such a tight throbbing glam-disco-pop machine. This is no half-assed version of the band. What you’re getting on this tour is 100% of the original Pulp of yesteryear. At the end of the night, Jarvis took the time to introduce each and every member.
It’s been 16 years since Pulp last played San Francisco. Both Phil and I were there May 21st, 1996 at Bimbos. Harken back another 15 years and you’ll realize it’s been 29 years (to the day) since IT was released. Jarvis reminded us of that milestone, just before they launched into IT opener “My Lighthouse” for their 2nd encore. We all cheered in anticipation, but self-effacing as always, he chided us all “Don’t clap too much cause you haven’t heard it yet!”
For all Jarvis’ protestations about common people, he’s an awfully well-read guy, at least by American standards. He informed us that even though he’d only been in San Francisco for a few hours, his first stop was the City Lights Bookstore, purchasing some poetry by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. He even read a few pieces in-between songs. In addition to the afore-mentioned book, Jarvis had a slew of notes and quotes tapped to the floor and backed by red construction paper.
Setlist: Pulp at The Warfield (thanks www.setlist.fm):
1 Do You Remember the First Time?
2. O.U. (Gone, Gone)
4. Something Changed
5. Disco 2000
6. Sorted for E’s & Wizz
7. Acrylic Afternoons
8. Pencil Skirt
9. Like a Friend
12. This Is Hardcore
14. Bar Italia
15. Common People
16. Glory Days
17. Party Hard
19. My Lighthouse