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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Live Review, 4/17/12: Pulp Makes the Class War Sexy at the Warfield

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 8:20 AM

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5. Jarvis Cocker reads Pulp's wiki page. From this, he learned that last night's show was the 29th anniversary of IT, Pulp's half-formed first record. To commemorate this, the band closed out the final encore with "My Lighthouse," a loping sweetheart of a tune that lacks glam, disco, and sexual urgency, but is still pretty good. It sounds like an outtake from 69 Love Songs.

6. Pulp is an exciting and inventive group and not just the pit band for the Jarvis Cocker Musical Theater Extravaganza. Since they eschew solos or showiness and tend toward a unison sound more disco-tight than rock 'n' roll glory hounding, the band members can seem anonymous behind Cocker. That's fine: bass, guitars, keyboards, drums, and the occasional violin all fit together as crisply as Tupperware fits those lids you lose as soon as you take Tupperware to work. Pulp is on it for real -- not just for a word-nerd band, especially on the porny triphop of "This is Hardcore" and the Bowie/Eno orgy "Party Hard."

7. Ariel Pink's Artful Shambles opened. After slumping through a clutch of tunes that lacked the rinky-dink -- but not at all insubstantial -- charms of his records, Pink indulged in some amusing screeches and left the stage with his band long before the feedback ended. The Warfield's response to this was utterly nonplussed. I'm a fan of Pink's, but the chief pleasure I got from the set came from seeing if I had palate enough to sort out precisely what he and his Haunted Graffiti were up to: Was the performance diffident or merely indifferent? Were they bored, lackadaisical, or merely above the very idea of trying to entertain an audience?

8. Trying to entertain an audience is important. For all the singalong, hop-along sex-and-drug songs built for Glastonbury, and for all the heavy-breathing spoken-word interludes built for perving, Pulp's approach is actually more in line with modern Nashville or Broadway than modern rock: Each song is an event, crammed with laugh lines and writerly detail and genre-specific attitude and then banged out by a crack band dedicated to lifting you up with it. The neon P-U-L-P behind the band doesn't just suggest Elvis '68. It's a promise: This is going to be a goddamn show.


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