Pulp @ Festival Hall 29/07/11

While we didn’t get to meet up in the year 2000, Pulp’s reunion show at Festival Hall was well worth the wait.

Bells Will Ring knew all too well who everyone was there to see and seemed apologetic they were up on stage. While there jangly indie was pleasant it was also largely forgettable. In a smaller venue, in different circumstances they could be fantastic, but it felt like they weren’t trying hard enough to keep the audience’s attention.

This, however was not a problem Pulp had. In fact the moment roadies started to set up, anticipation had began to build within the almost capacity crowd. A sheer curtain did very little to hide the giant neon sign on stage, nor the screen made to look like a fireplace. Green laser writing which varied from the predictable “Hello Melbourne” to the ridiculous and brilliant swimming dolphin was the first sign that we were going to be in for a hell of a show.

From the opening notes of Do You Remember The First Time it was clear this was no ordinary reunion show. The band played as if they had to win the crowd over all over again and there was no sign of the mediocrity we’ve come to associate with this type of tour.

Jarvis Cocker is every bit the unlikely sex symbol he was 13 years ago, with every hip thrust causing the kind of swooning you’d be likely to see at the height of Beatlemania. With the rest of the band hovering towards the back of the stage, he threw chocolate to the audience, passed around champagne and danced like the world’s coolest creepy uncle. Joyriders and Bad Cover Version started things off well but it wasn’t until Disco 2000 provided a mid-set sing along that crowd really got moving. Sorted For Es and Wizz was the perfect comedown song, even if the rave culture it was inspired by was left in nineties.

Pulp have always been the thinking-person’s Britpop band and tracks such as This Is Hardcore and the highly underrated Sunrise hold up as well at they did over a decade ago. The Different Class heavy set still sounded relevant even though most of the crowd were no longer young and poor.

I Spy is still as sinister as it was 13 years ago and we were more than happy to relive the first time Jarvis Cocker encounter a walk-in-wardrobe with Babies. The arrival of Common People signaled the end of the nearly two-hour set and Bridezilla’s Daisy Tully joined the band to play Russel Senior’s violin part (he was the only member not to make the Australian leg of the tour). It felt surreal to hear such an iconic song live and as predicted, it went off.

After a very short break, the band came back on stage to play what could be their final three songs in Melbourne. Party Hard got the crowd moving again and it was great to see This Is Hardcore era tracks get an airing in a Different Class heavy set. The rarely played Like A Friend was a surprise inclusion and pleased many of the die-hard Pulp fans. The moment we all knew had come arrived with Mis-shapes, the perfect closer to a near perfect set.

I can honestly saw it was one of the best, if not the best gig I have ever been to. Although the sound was too bass-heavy and the venue was more of a barn than anything ( Festival Hall really need to get their shit together), Pulp put on the kind of show that puts most young bands to shame. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait another 13 years for them to come back.


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