Concert Review by Annsbel Bayross
Brixton Academy, London – 30 November 2001
Being such a short-arse I was thrilled to find out that Pulp were playing at Brixton. A convenient sloping floor meant that I could experience Pulp in their full capacity. This was the second night of their three sell out dates at Brixton Academy, in support of their new album WE LOVE LIFE. There was a tangible buzz in the air as they walked on stage; the response they got from the audience was one worthy. Kicking off with WEEDS (also the albums’ opener) Jarvis immediately shows us why he’s one of the best frontmen in the industry. This little beauty of a prelude followed with some true ‘Cocker’ banter – ‘My lovely clean stage!’ he says despairingly as someone lobs a Benson at him. ‘I don’t smoke B & H!’ and we all laugh loudly remembering why we like Jarvis so much. What followed was a superb selection of Pulp’s finest. A taster of the new; WEEDS 11 (THE OROGIN OF THE SPECIES) and the BIRDS OF YOUR GARDEN stroke a balance with the old SOMETHING CHANGED and LIVE BED SHOW. My ultimate favourite F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E was absolutely blinding – the kind of energy that came from the crowd during that song was mad.
We were then given the pleasure of sampling a big chunk off the new album, BAD COVER VERSION, THE TREES and I LOVE LIFE followed in that order. The first song from their previous album was the dark and sexual THIS IS HARDCORE another powerfully seductive Pulp song executed perfectly. The strength of sound and the kind of stage-presence the band had was irresistibly consuming. The acclaimed SUNRISE began slowly then built to a gradual rising crescendo – layers of acoustic guitar climaxing to a psychedelic burst of electric sound. During this instrumental masterpiece we were entertained by an energetic, choreographed, shirt and slacks Jarvis at his best. Seeing him mincing around on stage, with his refined hand and body gesticulations was a real treat – nobody else seems so capable of such an affectation.
To polish off the night their two chosen encores were spot on; a flash back to the past with BABIES, a reminder of the classics SORTED FOR E’s’ & WIZZ and LITTLE SOUL not everyone’s idea of a classic I know but a great one nonetheless. For the penultimate, the crowd demanded WICKERMAN, the new albums’ centre-piece followed by the poignant UNDERWEAR. For a band that has been around a long time they have managed to maintain such an overwhelming presence. I saw them back in ’97 at Chelmsford and was suitably wowed then. They’ve shown with this album and the previous, that they can move on from their Brit-pop hey day and keep on creating quality distinguished music. That night at Brixton Academy proves that Jarvis & Co. are still very much wearing their genius halo.