Britpop underdog Pulp celebrate the misfit with a lively show

Britpop underdog Pulp celebrate the misfit with a lively show

In the schoolyard fight between Blur and Oasis in the 1990s, Pulp stood on the sidelines wearing goofy glasses. Which of course meant that Pulp was always the best. On Friday evening, the eternal British pop singer performed at Afas Live, hidden between four-piece cash cow De Toppers at the Johan Cruyff Arena and pop princess Olivia Rodrigo at the Ziggo Dome. This was Pulp’s second ever concert in the Netherlands. The first was in 1995.

Frontman Jarvis Cocker and his band played highlights of their work for two hours at Afas Live (the last Pulp album was released in 2001). This work, to make a comparison again with Oasis and Blur, is more danceable and theatrical, with more disco influences in the sound, extended scenes and sarcastic banter in the lyrics.

String orchestra

In addition to Cocker, all of the original members of Pulp were in attendance, except for bassist Steve Mackey, who passed away last year. The band dedicated “Something’s Changed” to him, the most honest love song in their catalog. Pulp also brought along three touring musicians and — yes, really — a ten-piece string orchestra.

This concert was not just a routine end to Greatest Hits: already with the exciting second song “Disco 2000”, the audience was dazzled by the energy of Cocker, the band, songs that had lost none of their power. The show wasn’t a nostalgia fest either: only the final song, “Glory Days,” saw archival footage projected onto the big screens. It sounded as if it were 1995, or as if Pulp had released these songs last year. There was dancing and partying in the hall, although most of the attendees, given their age, must now be suffering from the beginnings of lower back problems.

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Dandy in plush

As one of the frontmen, Coker is at once flamboyant and a little awkward, dapper in a 1970s velvet suit with distinctive black spectacle frames. He dances a lot, but really he only dances with his limbs. His jokes are dry and typically English: before his big hit “Common People” he says “We’ve played them all, haven’t we?” The song’s main character, a student of wealthy parents, encounters Cocker’s narrator to get a taste of how the mob lives. The song continues for a fantastic ten minutes tonight, which the crowd thoroughly enjoys. “Common People,” like much of Pulp’s work, is an ode to the poor and the misfits: no matter how much they despise us, we underdogs know better.

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