Jarvis Cocker, The Plug, Sheffield, 15+16/02/07

★★★★★

Jarvis returns! Again! This time, not only has he lost the glow-in-the-dark skeleton suit of Relaxed Muscle but his surname has also been discarded. Fortunately, his ability to craft anthemic choruses and create vignettes in a few couplets remains intact, as owners of the new album Jarvis will already be well aware

Jarvis returns! Again! This time, not only has he lost the glow-in-the-dark skeleton suit of Relaxed Muscle but his surname has also been discarded. Fortunately, his ability to craft anthemic choruses and create vignettes in a few couplets remains intact, as owners of the new album Jarvis will already be well aware.

Once again, Jarvis is working with Pulp guitarist Richard Hawley, the second time they have collaborated since Pulp went ‘on hiatus’ in 2002, but these gigs should prove something of a contrast to Jarvis’s most recent musical outing, performing ‘Do the Hippogriff’ with most of Radiohead in 2005’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Concerns that Jarvis may be less relevant now than during Pulp’s Britpop heyday are not unreasonable, but really they were never a part of the movement in the same way that Oasis or Blur were. As it is, the songs on Jarvis are probably more of their moment than almost any record currently on release, from the gloriously New Labour-baiting ‘(Cunts are still) Running the World’ to the Mondeo Man-goading ‘I Will Kill Again’. And all this despite a Velvet Underground sample forming the backbone of ‘Black Magic’.

In any case, the long term influence of Pulp on British guitar pop is by now an affirmed phenomenon; the Long Blondes, among many others, bear plenty of the hallmarks of their Sheffield forebearers, in a chain of observational wit that goes back through Pulp to The Jam and beyond.

These two sold out hometown gigs (the one on the 15th added, inevitably ‘by popular demand’) at the Plug, a mere two and a half miles from Jarvis’s Nether Edge Hospital birthplace, are sure to be attended by a hardcore Sheffield fanbase (plus the odd southern fly-by-night) and, for anyone who believes wit has a place in pop, will be the highlight of the year. Tell your housemates, tell your friends and, eventually, tell your grandchildren: you saw Jarvis Cocker!

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