Pulp play Sheffield Arena Pic Errol EdwardsPulp play Sheffield Arena Pic Errol Edwards
Pulp play Sheffield Arena Pic Errol Edwards

Pulp review: Jarvis shows his love for Sheffield at incredible homecoming gig

The band were on sparkling form as they threw everything (particularly the kitchen sink dramas) into their set

Picking a standout moment from Pulp’s homecoming show in Sheffield is no easy feat.

Complete with a hit-filled set list, elaborate stage setup, adoring crowd and vignettes aplenty from the incomparable Jarvis Cocker, the Arena show was nothing short of a triumph.

The Britpop band returned to the city just over a decade on from their last reunion tour and were on sparkling form as they threw everything (particularly the kitchen sink dramas) into their allotted two hour set time.

The deluge in Sheffield did nothing to dampen the spirits of a crowd that made their way to the venue via train, tram, car and the Pulp bus and the only gripes arose from the patchy crowd control (or lack of) around the venue.

Deftly marrying the mundanity of everyday life with the grandiose has long been Pulp’s calling card and it was played out in every sense from the get go.

A dramatic extended string intro saw messages appear on screen welcoming the audience (“This is a night you will remember for the rest of your life”) and spelling out the thinking behind the ‘This Is What We Do For An Encore’ tour name (‘An encore is what happens when the crowd want more’) before a regal red curtain pulled open to reveal a platformed stage, at the tip of which Jarvis emerged performing the devious ‘I Spy’ to thunderous applause.

When the Bond-esque drama of the song concludes the night is kicked in with the timeless Disco 2000 as streamers spray over the erupting crowd and the image of a wood chipped is displayed behind the group. It’s followed by one of Jarvis’s many moments of familiar chatter with the crowd, saying: “It’s different when we play in Sheffield because you know where these songs came from.”

Revealing that the "fountain down the road" was Goodwin Fountain on Fargate, Jarvis adds: "And you know what they did before the year 2000? They f***ing filled it in!”

The defiant ‘Mis-Shapes’ is followed by the sublime ‘Something Changed’, which is dedicated to Pulp’s late bassist Steve Mackey and there’s no let up from there, as the band – complete with a 10-piece orchestra – rallies through its varied and expansive back catalogue.

It’s hard to take your eyes off Jarvis as his spindly silhouette vaults up and down the steps and he plays out the songs’ subversive narratives; taking a moment to sit on a leather chair and sip some tea during the brooding ‘This Is Hardcore’ and flailing in abandon through ‘F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.LO.V.E’.

‘Do You Remember The First Time?’ and ‘Babies’ offer moments to feel the force of the crowd’s jubilation before the main set ends with an exalting version of ‘Sunrise’, during which they’re joined by fellow Sheffield favourite Richard Hawley, who himself delivered a typically serene set in his support slot earlier in the night.

The performance of ‘Underwear’ is marred somewhat by an issue in the crowd that seems to go unheeded before Jarvis teases the audience (“Is that it or have I forgot something?”) ahead of a rapturous performance of ‘Common People’.

There’s still time for a second encore and more chitter chatter from Jarvis – who seems genuinely touched by the ovations –  before the memorable night comes to a close.

The Britpop band returned to the city just over a decade on from their last reunion tour and were on sparkling form as they threw everything (particularly the kitchen sink dramas) into their allotted two hour set time.