Concert Review: Pulp at Coachella Music Festival
So Coachella is officially in full swing this weekend and next. While we don’t have the pleasure of sweating it out in the toasty California sun and getting beer spilled on us, we can experience the next best thing – streaming of select shows in HD from the comfort of your computer. This is a fantastic idea that should have taken hold long before now. I’m glad Coachella sees this as a way to advertise this great event to future audiences while not detracting from those who plunked down their hard earned dollar for the full experience.
Day one is in the books and it featured performances from Black Keys, Refused, Arctic Monkeys and UK sensation Pulp. While they aren’t a household name on this side of the pond, Jarvis Cocker and Pulp have been put out a steady stream of solid albums through the 90s. I was introduced to the band while reviewing their seminal 1996 release Different Class for my college newspaper. It was raw, edgy pop rock that threw convention to the wind. After going their separate ways in the late 90s, Pulp reunited last year to play a handful of European festivals. Coachella was set to be the band’s first stateside show in fifteen years after originally scraping plans to debut at last year’s festival.
The band opened the evening largely in the dark with “Do You Remember the First Time.” Two minutes into the set the lights finally come up just as you’re beginning to wonder if someone at Coachella forgot to pay the light bill. The Coachella crowd seemed fairly subdued. I don’t know if its the fact Pulp’s fanbase are more late 30-somethings or the fact that they never experienced the Oasis/Blur-type British invasion during the 90s. Hopefully they’ll use Coachella to springboard themselves into the American musical consciousness because once they’d bled into the racing “Misshapes” it was clear Jarvis and the boys haven’t missed a step since the band’s heyday.
Jarvis Cocker was every bit the glam hound that you’d expect him to be. He was preening and posing while dressed like a drab school teacher. He would mount the speakers to belt out his songs as if they afforded him a stage above the stage. Between the songs, he took the time to discuss the psychedelic lightning, the stories behind the songs and pondering Friday the 13th. Speaking of lighting, Pulp went into “Sorted Out for E’s and Wizz” and blacked out the stage to feature this trippy light extravaganza. It was very appropriate for a song about life cycle of a drug trip unfolding at a music festival.
The majority of Pulp’s Coachella set seemed to be drawn from Different Class (see the full setlist below) though they did a solid sampling from their catalog. The band’s hit single “Common People” seemed close to the band’s heart. The energy of the performance seemed particularly amped up as Jarvis banged the gong and manically bounced around the stage as the beat pounded from the speakers.
Pulp sounded great. Its a shame music as been without them for the past fifteen years. If I had a complaint about the set, it was its brevity. I know you have a lot of bands to sift through in an extravaganza that is Coachella, but given that this is their US comeback can’t we afford them a few more songs? Squeeze in a little “Live Bed Song” or “Razzmatazz.” These are matters outside of Pulp’s control so I won’t dock them an inability to bend the constraints of time.
If you’re in the California area and didn’t have the chance to catch Pulp at Coachella, they have a couple one off shows throughout the week before taking the stage Friday during weekend two of Coachella. Also if you want to catch the full Friday performance checkout the YouTube recording below. Things kick off around the 7:30 mark.
Pulp Coachella Setlist : April 13, 2012
Do You Remember the First Time
Sorted for E’s & Wizz
This is Hardcore