Primavera Sound Review: Pulp, May 27th, San Miguel Stage

Barcelona – Where to even begin? This journey to see one of my favorite bands started on November 8th, 2010 when Pulp announced they were reforming to play a few select shows starting with Primavera Sound. A few frantic emails and a quick check on Expedia later, I had booked my trip to Barcelona to see them. Then there was the long six month wait which really wasn’t that long since I went to London to see my other favorite band – Suede as well as SXSW, which I consider to be the greatest music journey a music fan can make. But there I was on May 27th, listening to the National singing their baritone hearts out to pretty much everyone in Barcelona and I just kept on staring at my Iphone thinking “is it time yet?”

The anticipation for the Pulp reunion show was high throughout the festival, only elevated by the fact that Jarvis Cocker himself had taken the time to check out the festival, walking around from stage to stage just like any other common person, eliciting gasps everywhere “JAAAAAA VIS! COCK KA” the Spaniards would say as he casually strolled by. By the time Belle and Sebastian took the stage, it was pretty clear the countdown had started for everyone. How clear, you ask? Halfway through the track Legal Man, Steve from Belle and Sebastian broke into the chorus of Common People and Stuart Murdoch asked the crowd “Are you excited about who is on next? I sure am”

So there we were, at 1:45 am. Me and many diehards had just waited at the stage after Belle and Sebastian played their last song at 12:15 am. That’s an hour and a half wait. I could have gone and seen Explosions in the Sky, but just like many others, the thought of losing my close to the stage spot was unbearable so I waited it out amongst the others. People were here from all over the world. There were Brazillians there, Japanese, various European types and an army of English people. Didn’t they have a billion festivals on England to go to, I asked. Their reply was that Primavera was the best one, which warmed my heart.

At 1:45 am, the green lasers that had been hyping us up with phrases like “are you ready?” and “can you believe this is happening?” finally projected the words “Lets do this” ( or something similar ). The stage went dark and the words PULP was then spelled out on the lights in a dramatic fashion. The opening notes of Do you remember the first time was played and it was utterly one of the best moments ever. The lights slowly lit the stage to reveal Jarvis Cocker standing on two platforms looking larger than life behind a mesh curtain. He sang the opening verse before the curtain was lifted and the lights became blinding for the track’s inevitable sing-a-long explosion of a chorus. To say the energy level was high would be one of the greatest understatements of all time, it was insane. People were singing along, jumping as high as they possibly could, some people didn’t even know how to react. I was about 15-20 feet from the stage and it was just nuts. I had to take my earplugs off just so they would not accidentally get rammed into my head by the crowd. It might have been a different experience from someone who was standing a mile away, but they weren’t really here for the band anyway. This video does a pretty good job summing up the introduction:

Thus began our ninety minute of audio and visual bliss. Playing a set primarily from the two Britpop albums – His N Hers and Different Class, Pulp sounded as tight as ever and seemed well determine to re-establish themselves as one of the greatest bands from the Britpop generation. The wine sipping, glasses wearing Jarvis seemed as game as ever, still slim as a twig, still dancing only the way Jarvis can and still inspiring the crowd with carefully chosen words between sets. I’m just going to go through some of my personal highlights from the show

“Would you like to dance with me?” Jarvis asked, before the Gloria-riff of Disco 2000 sent the crowd into a dancing frenzy. There’s something to be said about singing along to one of your favorite songs of all time and being joined in by oh, twenty thousand people. One of my life goals was realized at this moment.

The green laser light show that was all too fitting for the rave inspired track Sorted For E’s and Wizz. While the rave/Madchester culture of the late 80s early 90s seemed soooooooo long ago, much of the song still resonates today and it felt very appropriate when the lyrics “is this the way the future’s meant to feel? or is this 20,000 people standing in a field?” were spoken by the man himself.

FEELINGCALLEDLOVE was a hundred thousand times better live than on album, while the track just seemed like a stopgap point on Different Class (sandwiched between Common People and Disco 2000), the quiet/slow to loud/fast tempo change of this song sounded tremendously epic live.

Hearing the entire crowd sing out the entire lyrics for the track This is Hardcore was something else.

What can you say about experiencing Common People live? In a week where protesters in Barcelona were hospitalized at the hands of the police, the stage was set for the track Common People to once again, rise above the festival. Dedicating the track to those said protesters, Common People was just an eight minute block of music that will be forever frozen in my mind as the top eight minutes of live concert music that I will ever encounter. The jubilation in the crowd was mind blowing and it was one of those moments where you will always remember what it felt like. The crowd sang and dance along to the entire track. Common People is a song about us and for us. It’s a track that speaks to your heart and makes you look at strangers around you as friends and compatriots rather then someone you should step on to elevate your own career and status. This is why the song has a place in everyone’s heart and it’s why the people lose their minds for it. An amazing experience that will never be replicated, even if I saw Pulp again.

In conclusion, for me, it was a show for the ages. To have waited sixteen years to see one of your favorite bands and then having that band exceed all expectations is rare feat. The band was tight, the set list was great, Jarvis was an amazing front man and to experience the show among thousands of die hards completely made the experience unforgettable. Best show I’ve ever seen.

Do You Remember the First Time?
Pink Glove
Pencil Skirt
Something Changed
Disco 2000
Sorted For E’s & Wizz
I Spy
This Is Hardcore
Bar Italia
Common People


What’s next? I don’t even know.

Posted on by Ricky in Primavera

About Ricky

Britpop lovin Chinaman, consumer of all things irrelevant. Toronto Raptors fan.

3 Responses to Primavera Sound Review: Pulp, May 27th, San Miguel Stage

  1. Vik

    Nice man, nice.

  2. Nel

    This setlist was short. That would be around 90 min only. The tune-up gig they had in Toulouse earlier was longer. I’m seeing them at Reading and I’m afraid the setlist would be this short.(also Reading is the last leg of the summer show and Jarvis by that time may have consumed all his energies with all the leaping and dancing)

  3. Pingback: Primavera Sound Review: The National, Belle & Sebastian | The Panic Manual

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