Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Secret gig

Me and Beck went to a 'secret' Jarvis gig at Concorde II yesterday, a warmup for the tour proper which starts next week. The venue isn't really used to your actual proper band (it's Fatboy Slim's home venue) and it shows: the seven strong band are crowded on the stage, the lighting rig fails (they play the first song in darkness then put a static spot on Jarvis and up the stage lighting, the basic blue and red bulbs on the the stage rig) and the monitors weren't particularly well positioned according to JC who claimed they only worked at knee height (and did most of one song at that level to prove it). The bass was a bit jagged maybe but overall it was not too bad a sound for a venue with debatable acoustics (and maybe PA) and at least good and fucking loud (more swearing later) with the bass drum battering the stomach, bass guitar hammering my aching knees, plenty of noisy guitar. What a gig ought to be, especially the first gig of the new millenium.. ahem.

They open with 'Fat Children' from the new album which is released next Monday: superb. Wasted on this audience, I'm sorry to say, who hardly seem to move. This is the first time JC has played live in years, he's nervous and rambly between songs, but he picks up and soon the animated arm-dancing and twitching is back: he picks up a guitar for a song or two, charisma starts sparking: we're at the back, there still doesn't seem to be much dancing going on though: one factor is age, Beck won the "audience average age" game with 32, but also seemingly the Concorde have fucked up again and put a big gap between the performer and his audience. Plus the band play no Pulp and that's what the audience would love to hear.. Jarvis repeatedly apologises for the unfamiliarity of the material, at one point likening it to looking in a fridge for 45 minutes: afterwards you get the feeling that it was bright, but unappealing. At least that's the way I remember what he said.

The new material is actually very good, I will be buying the album when it comes out next week, in the meantime there's jarvspace. After a while the band started to sound a bit 'samey', perhaps they could try to introduce more dynamics into the set, but maybe that wasn't practical in the Concorde II as it's a bit primitive. Of course there are dynamics in in the songs, Mr Cocker's signature is the high quality of his songwriting, and he takes the time to explain what some of the songs refer to: 'Big Julie Rules The World' is a mashup of a book and an early-developing girl from Loughborough (home of Ladybird books, you'll be fascinated to discover). 'Disney Time' was partially inspired by Dumbo's mum.

They play the songs from the Jarvis album, a B side (Jarvis satirically mocks the term B side, prefers 'differently abled song') called One Man Show, and a song he wrote for Lee Someone called Big Stuff. 'From A to I' is superb, it's about evil being everywhere 'from Auschwitz to Ipswitch' and seeing evil when you look inside yourself.

Then they go off, come back on and do 'C*nts are Running The World' which apparently is the hidden song on the album.. fun for when the vicar comes round 30 minutes after you've been listening. Actually, it's a stormer and available from iTunes. Jarvis is conversational, affectionate, grateful: the audience is slightly perhaps withholding of their favours, unamused by the unfamiliarity, but applause is generally warm and generous. The odd chant of "Jar - Vis" goes up, someone shouts for 'Common People', ironically maybe, though introducing Candida Doyle from Pulp for one song heightened the audiences' hopes of hearing a favourite song: you never know, however unlikely you know it to be.

Our thanks to Carl for the tip-off for the tickets, nice to meet his new wife Gretchen too.