Pulp (Witnness 7.12.01)
7th December 2001
The Ambassador

First of all. The set list I got at the end of this gig has become part of my Set Lists Section.
When you get there you'll see Jarvis on his knees with my list just to his right.
So go have a look.

We didn't hear about this gig until all the tickets were sold out. It was advertised as "Witnness 7.12.01" as it was a Guinness sponsored event. I suppose this was the reason why.

That didn't matter, because Dr. J managed to attain tickets through his well-connected father (good work Agent N). We went along to see Pulp on a cold Friday evening, joining the back of a fifty metre queue under the beams of borrowed searchlights.

It promised well from the start - we were given shiney yellow wrist bands allowing us three free pints of Guinness each. Although we wouldn't take advantage our our free pints, it seemed that everyone else took advantage of theirs. We were to have quite a bit of drunk company for the evening (particularly in the young girl department). Once in, we moved straight to a "second row standing" position dead centre at the front of the crowd. And there was a stand out box for Jarvis at the front of the normal stage, guaranteeing a good show on the grounds of proximity.

Then we waited. Then the support came on. They were good, but bizarre. The support act consisted of four guys pretending to be old Cubans. It was comedy, and they wore the seventy's suits, the funny hats, the big smoking cigars. But they also sang very, very well, and then proceeded to breakdance quite competently. Not enough? The ringleader gradually stripped down until he was breakdancing naked (kneepads, red trainers and a necklace don't count as clothes). All the time they cracked good jokes, touched themselves repeatedly in the groin, and made smutty references to girls and boys in the audience. They were good, and I'm leaving out other moments of weirdness (breast touching) because this isn't really about the support.

The main act: Pulp. They were great, and things really changed once they came on. First of all, everyone who had been fannying around at the back of the venue with their free pints decided that was the time when they'd go up to the front of the gig. There we were in the first rowdy (bit of a) crush we'd been in for quite some time (U2 was more of a slow, calm crush). But I guess iy was also a little bit nasty. Girls were making noises of pain to my left (mostly hair getting caught I think), so I let one of them through to the metal bar just in front of me, then proceeded to spend quite some time stopping the drunken louts behind me from blatantly clawing their way to the front of the stage. Thankfully I had two hands on the metal bar, so they got nowhere. This kind of thing summed up the first part of the gig in terms of audience behaviour - nice people versus drunken twats. And it's not that I've never moved forward through a crowd, but we used to just wait until the crowd shifted then walk forward into the gap. Sticking your arm out and pushing forward as hard as you can isn't very nice.

The real display was an on-form Mr. Cocker. Jarvis had dressed in excellent style (which included no shoes or socks) and was doing all that stuff that was expected of him. Microphone holding and elaborate hand gestures were well provided for, and the occasional slipping on thrown beer then lying on the ground made for excellent alternative singing positions. A good mix of old and new songs got played, and the band produced a set that I think pleased everyone. They also did the trick of starting the gig with the first song from a new album (like Mercury Rev did). This seems to instantly make people very happy.

The gig ended a little bit abruptly. I suspect they were prevented from playing the now-standard second encore due to time restraints. Whatever happened, the house lights came on before we expected them to.

We hung around for quite a bit after the gig. Set lists were slow to be given out, but my ability to look pathetic/needy assured that I eventually received a battered and torn list of immeasurable character. Happy Happy Happy...

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