Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pulp: May 31, 1996

In the mid '90s, after having led Pulp for about 15 years, Jarvis Cocker was thrust into belated stardom in the UK and role of de facto spokesman for the burgeoning Britpop movement. The fact that he seemed somewhat befuddled and amused by the whole thing only made him that much more endearing.

At the time of this show, the band was touring in support of Different Class, the landmark album containing "Common People," probably its best known and loved song. It was the height of so-called Britpop, but here in the States, bands that were hugely popular in the UK played at clubs that were probably much smaller than what they were accustomed to back home.

Nashville's Superdrag opened, and at the time I unfairly pegged them as Americans wanting to sound British. In fact, they were a pretty great power pop band, and I wish I'd paid them more mind at the time. I admittedly wasn't the biggest Pulp fan either (although I eventually warmed to them, especially the album This Is Hardcore) but found Cocker immensely entertaining and funny. I recall he made a quip (equal parts cringe- and chuckle-inducing) about the Valu Jet crash that had taken place about three weeks before. "Did you hear they found the black box?" Cocker deadpanned. "The pilot's last words were 'Heeeeeellllllpppp!'" So it wasn't the height of witticism for him, but it was sort of endearing that the reluctant figurehead was willing to toss off a tasteless joke, just like any of your mates might.

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