This was Pulp‘s first gig since they split up in 2002 and everyone was understandably nervous. Le Bikini is a tiny venue and the date wasn’t exactly widely advertised, presumably so that if things went badly there wouldn’t be too much heard about the débâcle. They really needn’t have worried.
The show started about 9 pm, with the band walking onto the stage amidst deafening cheers from the fans. They resemble a group of secondary school teachers, rather than respected rock musicians. It’s slightly surreal, particularly when I see Candida Doyle’s dress. She looks as if she should be taking the third years for Eng. lit. Good grief, these people are my age (Russell Senior just turned 50); they look like my next door neighbours.
The band launch into Do You Remember The First Time?. Didn’t know my next door neighbours could rock.
Ah, we’re not starting the second number without a preamble. Jarvis Cocker endears himself to the French by attempting a bilingual explanation that it is exactly 17 years since Pulp first played Le Bikini in 1994. “Was anybody here at that concert?” A few people shout “yes”, although they look too young for this to be true. “Is there anybody here born in February 1995?” One guy answers in the affirmative. “Son! I’ve come back to take you home,” says Cocker dramatically.
Cocker bounces across the stage like a demented daddy-long-legs, throwing his skinny excuse for a body around in what looks like a jerky puppet dance, until you realise that his timing is impeccable and not a single move is superfluous. With that curtain of hair over his face and the beard, he seems to be half stick-drawing, half-muppet. Nevertheless, he manages to make it all very sexy. Some of the boys seemed to appreciate this as much as the girls, which led to one rather strange conversation.
Here’s the beginning of the setlist and no, I do not have the original:
The set was in two parts, rather than the traditional set plus 3 encores. This may partly have been because of the local taxi drivers’ strike (Toulouse was hit pretty hard), as Jarvis Cocker did at one point ask if we would have trouble getting home because of the strike and, if not, would we mind their trying out a few more songs? Daft question. We’d have walked home at 3 am, if necessary.
The first part finished with a triumphant Common People, which was a bit odd in my opinion, I would have thought that would be the ultimate crowd-rocking closer. Almost anything would be a bit of an anti-climax after that. Nevertheless, the second half (well, not quite half: it was shorter than the first part) contained a number of much-loved songs. However, it did not include at least one song quite a few of us were expecting (SPOILER: highlight to read if you really must Razzamatazz ).
After a good two hours of music, the apparently tireless Cocker and his bandmates take their final bow, Russell Senior giving us a thumbs-up as he leaves. Pulp have given of their most excellent best, leaving behind only ecstatic fans and a lone glass of wine. For an inaugural gig, it was fantastic. To see Pulp together again after all this time was a privilege. Those of you who will be going to see them this summer are lucky, lucky people.
Those less fortunate can always get the CDs out and hope for a DVD after the tour is over. We may at least get a live CD, since we spotted crowd microphones either side of the stage.
A few links :
Feel free to suggest others (there are some good fan sites out there) in the comments.
UPDATE 27 MAY 2011: Five sort-of official videos have made their way onto Youtube. The link leads to the full playlist on my channel. The strange conversation I mentioned above precedes Disco 2000.
The venue was trying out a brand new camera and weren’t very used to it, so the camerawork is a bit dodgy. I recognised myself, I’m happy.