Pop review: Jarvis Cocker, Academy, Sheffield

Academy, Sheffield

The former Pulp frontman hasn't forgotten how to be a star. He runs on stage, pointing a cane towards the crowd, each accusing jab receiving cheers. "Who likes my beard?" he asks of his new facial augmentation. "And who thinks it makes me look like Peter Sutcliffe?" There is a chorus of approval. "Sick bastards!" In his 1970s BBC cotton suit, he looks like a deranged headmaster possessed by the spirit of Iggy Pop. As part of Rough Trade's 30th Anniversary celebrations, the singer later turns DJ (spinning Barry White to a clearing floor), but first plays lecturer, delivering typically Cockeresque monologues on everything from the lack of council-provided slides for children in his old hometown to the proliferation of Robins. "Robin Williams ... Robin Trower ..." "Robin bastards!" cries some wag. The headmaster is unflinching. He's more sheepish when he promises a free shot of lime to anyone who can identify the slides behind him: "I haven't cleared it with the venue."

Between songs he is brilliant; during them he's variable, delivering 90 minutes of new material and songs from 2006's in-at-37 album, Jarvis. Running the World articulates Cocker's hope that one day the planet will not be led by "cunts". The new, gloriously melodramatic Girls Like It Too originated from, of all places, advice given by John Peel's brother at his funeral and is Cocker's best tune in years. Bones features a classic Cocker lyric about glimpsing an attractive woman while admiring a skeleton in a museum. However, the audience clearly yearn for just one Common People or similar, which never arrives. A for effort, Cocker, but room for improvement.


Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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