Thursday, November 16, 2006

Jarvis Cocker at the Camden Palace

Six songs into Jarvis Cocker's third ever solo gig (he's played in Paris and Brighton in recent weeks, and last night played the Camden Palace Koko) I was thinking to myself, having recently witnessed Damon's amazing comeback gigs in Exeter and down the road at the Roundhouse, "oh, nothing to get excited about here".

A few simple facts about the first half of the set:

- some middling songs, kind of resembling the late period, Scott Walker, Nick Cave styled stuff on the last couple of Pulp albums.

- Jarvis clearly, like Damon, enjoying being back in the limelight, wagging his finger and making us all laugh between songs. He looks much better with his hair long (although Anne-So doesn't agree).

- A tight but flat performance from his band, featuring Richard Hawley (increasingly looking like Sheffield's best songwriter) on lead guitar. Nothing special.

And then things began to change. Not much taken with the song title 'From Auschwitz to Ipswich', but the song is a sudden and drastic improvement, and the song launches us into a series of songs ('Tonite', 'Big Julie', 'Disney Time') which are all reminiscent of Pulp at their best, much less reserved and introspective than the previous songs, and it's no co-incidence that the band begin to get off their leash now too, Hawley demonstrating some vivid guitar playing and the band and crowd seeming galvanised by the brief cameo of Jarvis's old bandmate Candida on guitar.

Suddenly, Jarvis's exagerrated shape pulling and finger jabbing seems justified, as if he's no longer performing alone but actually inhabiting the songs. When the set closes with an absolutely cracking, violent rendition if 'Black Magic' it suddenly seems possible that Jarvis has another number one single on his hands. The encore, the remarkable 'Cunts are Still Running the World', (key lyric: "it stinks, it sucks / it’s anthropologically unjust / Oh but the takings are up by a third / Cunts are still running the world") is much better live than on record, and does a lot to overcome the unfamiliarity of many of the previous songs.

Teasing us by offering to play an old song, Jarvis finishes with a very able cover of 'Space Oddity' and wins doubters like me very much over. Given that it's early days and he's only drawing from one album, it's safe to bet that future shows will sound bigger and better, and it's refreshing that so many of the best songwriters of the nineties (in the last weeks I've written about Albarn and Evan Dando extensively too) can still summon up the old energy. For me, an unexpected surprise in the end. Good stuff.

6 comments:

annsaphone said...

Im glad I didnt drag you there for nothing ! I'll copy you the album... I want a ticket for the roundhouse now... Jarvis is still my hero, hurray!

jonathan said...

No, it was brilliant. Just been listening to a recording of the Brighton gig actually. Did you see that some of last night's gig is up on youtube now - here's a pretty good take of space oddity.

annsaphone said...

i was just about to post the link. where can i listen to the brighton gig?

annsaphone said...

by the way, this is the video i was talking to you about last nigth...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8lXvLjdbmw

jonathan said...

Here's the download for the Brighton gig - not the best quality ever but worth a listen. When you're unzipping it you'll need to enter the password, which begins with the letter 'c'. Clue - they run the world.

Anonymous said...

Cats? Vic