Pulp's comeback at the IOW Festival

Jarvis Cocker
Jarvis Cocker Image credit:

Described as ‘a land of surprise and adventure with exciting rides, goblins & fairies, dinosaurs, nursery rhyme’ Blackgang Chine is a popular attraction on the Isle of Wight which has welcomed thousands of visitors since 1843, one of which was a young Jarvis Cocker.

It’s not the only resemblance to the Island’s history Pulp’s front man will refer to in the bands anticipated comeback appearance tonight. Cocker, who tells the crowd he likes to do his research, relates back to the festival heyday in 1970 which was attended by a staggering 600,000 people. He wonders how they coped without the invention of Portaloos.

The slighter smaller gathering on this warm Saturday evening, a torrential downfall will follow on Sunday, sees a vast majority of the 90,000 festival goers welcoming the Sheffield band back on this supposedly poignant date (Jarvis jokes the band’s last performance was 11 June 1981).

The ‘Caulkheads’ which we are told by Jarvis relates to people who are born on the Island (this time, he’s telling the truth) soak up the lost Brit-Pop atmosphere which was so dynamic in the nineties when Pulp stood out of the ringside allowing Oasis and Blur battle against their differences. With both bands now defunct it’s time for Jarvis and Co. to shine once more and their setlist tonight does just that.

Despite Cocker banter between the tracks slightly veering to unclear murmurs every now and then when the hits are played the eccentric showman delivers what we had been hoping for since the band broke up in 2002 appropriately starting their set with ‘Do You Remember the First Time?’

After dedicating ‘Something Changed’ to Kelly, the artist liaison manager at Pulp’s management company, the infamous Rough Trade, the band take a trip with ‘Sorted For E’s & Whizz’ giving the die-hard fans an outer-body experience of for-filled ecstasy. Jarvis own come-down sees him disrobing his shirt and tie before climbing on top of stack of speakers to continue his seductive lap dance.

His mild foreplay leads to the crowd reproducing a hands-in-the-air anthem through ‘Babies’ followed by ‘Underwear’ and the 1998 title-track off Pulp’s ‘This is Hardcore’ Gold album.

Their set ends with another questionable form of banter as Jarvis tells us ‘Common People’ was the first track played at the Royal Wedding.

Pulp are back and we haven’t had this much fun since...well, since we came eye to eye ourselves with goblins, fairies and dinosaurs but that led to a conversation with Frank after a weekend at Glastonbury which we rather not talk about!

Disabled Access at the IOW was quite good. There was a shuttle taking campers with special needs to and from the campsite to the main arena. The disabled entrance led easily to the platform which was very spacious and equipped with a disabled loo on the platform level itself. The security did an excellent job guarding the area as well but a lack of chairs (none in fact) didn’t give those with other motor neurone disabilities or walking limitations a comfortable weekend unless they brought their own seating arrangements. Unfortunately there were no facilities for disabled guests at the Big Top.