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Live review: Pulp at Finsbury Park- The encore to end all encores
Here are our thoughts on Pulp's show at Finsbury Park.
Date published: 3rd Jul 2023
Rising through the trap door to a backdrop of the moon, you may be fooled into thinking that you're seeing Pulp and Jarvis Cocker in their prime when the fervent roar of the crowd rises in anticipation. The band are back on their "This is what we do for an encore" tour, a stunning victory lap that is taking them across the UK this summer.
For many people, Blur and Oasis were the defining bands of the Britpop era but Pulp were arguably just as much of a necessity when it came to influencing popular culture. Much of that is owed to the enigmatic Cocker who not only wrote some of the most awkward love songs of all time but channels such singular energy on stage that you can't help but be mesmerised.
Image credit: Rachel Lipsitz (Clash Magazine)
Who else would ask the crowd if they enjoy grapes before proceeding to pelt his audience with them? Sometimes you will see the question 'What makes the perfect frontman?' be raised and people will reply, "Oh they must be 30% Dave Grohl's soggy beard and channel Slash, Hendrix and Noel Gallagher all at once".
But, forget about all that as Cocker shows at Finsbury Park that through the power of strange hand movements, a telepathic understanding with his audience and emphasising the positivity, joy and awkward relatability that Pulp's music brings is all that you need. Watching Cocker on stage is an experience within itself.
The second song on the setlist is 'Disco 2000', which encourages the first huge singalong of the night, with the crowd perfectly warmed up for a journey through Pulp's catalogue that includes all of the anthems and some obscurities. Tracks such as 'Pink Glove' hit harder than ever with the flashing, fluorescent pink stage adding urgency as the chorus reaches its highest potential.
The performance showed a brilliant amount of balance, paying homage to all of Pulp's best eras as a band. 'Something Changed' was dedicated to the passing of Steve Mackey, who would surely have been a thrilling watch alongside his bandmates.
Finishing with the expected 'Common People', which is arguably the greatest British anthem of all time, it is the signal of a band who have always been nothing less than at their best. But wait! There's an encore to the encore as Cocker and co come out one final time to play 'Razzamatazz', perhaps their most underappreciated song with its revolving disco ball of a chorus. With that, Pulp reminds us that they're one of Britain's most essential bands.
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