Live Music + Gig Reviews

Jarvis Cocker @ Royal Festival Hall, London

23 June 2007

Jarvis Cocker wends his way onto the stage at the Royal Festival Hall from the right hand balcony and asks, “So what’s wrong with Glastonbury then? Fed up with freezing your bollocks off?”

Glastonbury may be the daddy of all festivals, but tonight we have our very own pop laureate to muse upon. He has put together an eclectic mix of acts for this year’s Meltdown audiences, and has been able to enjoy being the voyeur throughout the last eight days. Now, the “hunter has become the hunted, the table has turned – and this time last week Lemmy was stood just there,” he deadpans.

“Do you want it?” he asks as he bursts into Fat Children, the next single from his debut album. His popping and snaking hips lead him around the stage and his ownership and freestyle use of the mic is on top form. Next up is Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time, and before Heavy Weather comes a few comments on the decidedly heavy weather England’s been experiencing this week, and some more asides on Glastonbury. If he really wanted to be there, it doesn’t show.

He’s joined by ex-Pulp guitarist Steve Mackey and later for, From A To I, by fellow ex-Pulpster Candida Doyle on keyboard. The London Chamber Orchestra and an all-female choir are brought on stage for I Will Kill Again, which is delivered with such sweet sincerity it almost chills the bones.

The stage filled further with three glockenspiels, two enormous ones to the rear of the stage left and right and one rather dainty one for Jarvis himself, who during songs is only still when tied to an instrument. The glockenspiels are for Baby’s Coming Back To Me and the audience whoop with pleasure as his hammer hits the first few notes.

The disco style back lighting adds brilliantly to the mood of each song as we go from the loss of youth in Tonight, into the political rise of Big Julie and the darker side of parenting in Disney Time. Not present on the solo album is Big Stuff, here introduced as a song about troublesome things that happen on the way through life.

The audience is brought to its knees along with Cocker in a crashing crescendo of an arse slapping rock ‘n’ roll with Black Magic. Jarvis picks himself off the floor and the stage goes dark.

Of course it’s not over – he returns for the album’s secret track, the briskly honest (Cunts Are Still) Running The World, and the now frenzied crowd lovingly join in the chorus chant. The orchestra and choir come back onto the stage and we are given a potted explanation of Quantum Theory. It’s followed by this evening’s surprise cover version: of all things, Survivor‘s Rocky theme, Eye Of The Tiger – greeted with howls and cheers.

Tonight was just Jarvis, what he does, the way he portrays the world as he sees it. Provoking and inspirational, all tied up with some of the most expressive moves this side of the West End. He’s enjoyed the show and is proud of the entire eight days of Meltdown, for which he had an army of people to thank. Rightly so – like his show tonight, it’s been remarkable.

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