REPORTER Andrew Trendell went to see Pulp’s homecoming show in Sheffield.
“You know you’re missing the X Factor final?” jokes Jarvis Cocker as he manoeuvres his spindly frame across a stage strewn with Andrex.
They handed it out in homage to their early days 32 years ago when toilet paper was a low-budget alternative to pyrotechnics and a light show. That all-singing, all-dancing reality show of shallow karaoke is an ugly side of culture that’s developed diarrhoea – now Pulp are back to hand out the bog roll.
This is proper pop music – made in Sheffield.
“Sorry it took us so long,” says Cocker, “but we’ve saved the best for last.”
Not only is tonight Pulp’s first hometown gig in 10 years, but it’s their last UK show for the foreseeable future . Straight from the off with Do You Remember The First Time, Pulp are hell-bent on making every moment count.
The sense of occasion is not lost on anyone. Like so, so many comebacks and reformations, tonight ran the risk of falling into a naff pantomime of nostalgia. Instead we’re treated to a masterful celebration, delivered and received with religious fervour.
“They’ve filled that fountain in now,” recounts Jarvis in reference to Disco 2000, constantly mapping their impeccable catalogue of hits onto the Sheffield landscape. Pulp couldn’t have come from anywhere else – and they give the love back around here.
We’re treated to a smattering of old school obscurities from Pulp’s days as unknown freaks in the 80s and early 90s before the disco funk jam of Countdown storms into an epic outing of Babies.
Of course, it just wouldn’t be a celebration of all things Sheffield without wheeling out fellow local icon Richard Hawley. The Don of the Don joins his former band for a delightfully menacing rendition of This Is Hardcore and underrated gem Sunrise before reaching the behemoth crescendo of Common People.
Returning for yet more irrepressible banter and a five song encore, you’re struck by how many immaculate indie staples this one band are responsible for. How have we lived with them?
As white ticker tape rains down and boozy Northerners sway along to Something Changed, it seems less like Christmas came early and more like they all came at once.
For tonight at least, the People’s Republic of South Yorkshire feels like the centre of the universe – and Pulp are the masters of it. Let’s pray we’ve not seen the last of them.
By Andrew Trendell