He’s not Jesus, but he has the same initials…

‘I’m so excited!’ a woman standing next to me beneath the front of the darkened stage felt compelled to explain to me.  ‘I haven’t been here in years!  I hate this place so much!  Last time I was here, I was watching My Chemical Romance, and I was pregnant, and my baby stopped moving!’

I’d been ignoring her, but this last comment peaked my interest.  ‘Really?’ I asked.

‘Yeah,’ she boasted, apparently proudly.  ‘But it was okay, and my baby is okay, but I called Festival Hall and the papers and told them I’d had a miscarriage. But the dickheads wouldn’t even give me any money!’

‘Really?’ I wondered aloud.  ‘So that was you?’

The girl shrieked excitedly that it was, but she didn’t seem to recognise me from the incident.  It seemed she believed that the hoax had somehow made her a kind of celebrity, and she kept repeating to me that she had faked the whole thing, yet still felt disgusted at the venue management for not paying her any kind of settlement money.  I told her that she had confirmed what I’d suspected at the time, and she asked what I meant.

‘You don’t remember me, do you?’ I asked.

She told me that she didn’t, and I explained that I remembered her clearly from that evening, and had enjoyed the show.  She told me that she had enjoyed it too, and only felt bitter because she hadn’t been able to make a profit.  I repeated my sentiment from the time, that I wondered what such a visibly pregnant woman was doing in the front of a mosh pit, and she seemed to become even more annoyed.

‘That isn’t the point!’ she shouted, grabbing someone who may have been a friend by the arm.  ‘The point is the music was too loud!’

She continued talking, I think, for a while, but I discontinued the listening I had been half-heartedly doing as a black curtain was raised above the stage where Belles Will Ring had just finished performing.  I didn’t really enjoy Belles Will Ring’s performance, however they can hardly be blamed for that, since I always confuse them with Broken Bells, who I prefer.  I had clearly not considered that it was probably unlikely that Broken Bells would be supporting Pulp.

Pulp,
Festival Hall, Melbourne, July 29, 2011

A low hum rose as the lights fell, and green letters were projected in a laser print onto the curtain.  It was the kind of theatrics I usually don’t go for, especially not when it went for as long as it did, but the fact that the lasers seemed to be speaking in the voice of Jarvis Cocker himself (whether that is truly the case or not) made the effect somewhat interesting.  But it started to get really exciting by the time the hum had grown to a steady guitar fuzz and the letters prompted Do you remember the first time? Well? Do you?

Suitably kitsch neon letters were illuminated one by one behind the curtain, which fell the second they completed spelling ‘Pulp,’ and gave us our first view of the band, and only meters away, Jarvis looking as excitedly awkawrd as he ever did.  As he strutted around the stage, I wondered if it is possible to practice awkwardness to the point of perfection, and concluded as things slowed down for Pencil Skirt that it is.

Pulp at Festival HallI was already impressed by Jarvis’s vintage heels when he requested a more modest pair of shoes be brought from somewhere off-stage, since it was irresponsible to be wearing such high heels ‘at my age.’  If the change of footwear allowed him to slink across the length of the stage during I Spy, then it was well worth while.  This Is Hardcore was, as anticipated, the set’s highlight, but was made only more exciting by Jarvis acting the lyrics out on stage, and all over amps and microphone stands, leaving few with any doubt about the lyrics’ meaning.

Pulp's Jarvis at Festival HallThe sound mix was also impressive – somehow the usual Festival Hall trait of the drum beats being mixed louder than anything else and drowning out the singer was surprisingly absent.

Jarvis, with Festival Hall's roof, and doors 3, 4 and 5Of course, with so extensive a back-catalogue there were songs that were left out, but the set included so many favourites that it wasn’t till playing an album in the car on the way home that anyone realised.  And isn’t that how a good gig should be?

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