Gig Review: Jarvis, Manchester Academy, 19th February 2007

Jarvis @ Manchester Academy

Though Jarvis Cocker made a welcome return to action last year, his album didn’t strike the chord with me that I’d hoped it would. Though there’s plenty of good songs on there, there was nothing that really jumped out and grabbed me, which is not something I could say about any of the Pulp albums from His ‘n’ Hers onwards. So, while I was quite looking forward to seeing Jarvis again, I can’t say that I had any great expectations of the gig, my thoughts for the past week focussed solely on The Hold Steady’s upcoming gig at Sheffield Leadmill a couple of days later.

Pre-Jarv we watched the Beep Seals (not the Deep Seals, as advertised on the running order, but a shitty name all the same) who started with a decidedly retro track which, while pleasant, sounded just a little bit like Teenage Fanclub playing The Byrds. As did the rest of their set, except for the last song, which sounded like Teenage Fanclub playing Led Zep. At least the singer wore his second-hand influences on his sleeve in the form a t-shirt covered in big stars. It saddens me to see such a young band drawing so heavily on the past while contributing so little in original ideas. And they’re not even from Liverpool.

I needn’t have worried about Jarvis ‘cos he and his excellent band put in a storming performance during which everything that was good about the album seemed magnified many times over. “Fat Babies” was the perfect opener to get the crowd going and gave the Jarv ample opportunity to leap off the drum riser and show us all the new crappy-yet-endearing dance moves he’s been working on for the past few years. “Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time” was equally great, benefitting, as did the rest of the set, from a rare night of excellent sound quality at the Academy. Songs from the album that had yet to really register with me were now bludgeoning me around the head, demanding my attention. “Big Julie” sounded huge while “Tonite” and “I Will Kill Again” had an epic swagger to them that is missing from their recorded versions. Even “Heavy Weather” sounded good, though “From Auschwitz To Ipswich”, clunky chorus and all, couldn’t be saved.

Jarvis @ Manchester AcademyJarvis himself was more animated and talkative than I remember from his Pulp days and spent time between songs running through a list of things that bugged him that he’d written for a magazine earlier in the day, including a hilarious rant about a certain brand of toilet roll dispenser. The crowd hung on his every word, girls squealed, a bra was thrown on stage, “You can collect it from the lost property box after the show” joked Jarv. A career in observational comedy awaits.

The main set ended with a stunning version of “Black Magic” which allowed our hero to leap off the drum riser many more times and had enough drums fills to ensure that his thrusting of arms and elbows went into overdrive. He returned to play “Running The World” and a cover of Magazine’s “Shot By Both Sides”, which was a brilliant closer despite the fact that he was clearly reading the lyrics to the verses from a sheet taped to the floor in front of the monitors. A great gig, a great performance, and not a Pulp song in sight.

Jarvis – Fat Children

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