Britpop legend Jarvis Cocker graced the iconic Roundhouse in Camden with his new band JARV IS, touring their now not so new album, Beyond the Pale. Alexander Melnikov reviews.
Walking on to great applause, Jarvis kicked things off with She’s a Lady a gem from the Pulp back catalogue. Accompanied by impressive light choreography, white beams danced off of the venue’s pillars as the synth and violin heavy classic thrust Jarvis into action. His stage resembles a time capsule from the 90s, and the same classic awkward but captivating dances complete with the charity shop suit and glasses roamed the stage to great effect.
''The crowd graciously received and with his charm, this somehow feels like a perfectly normal point in the gig''
As the song finishes, the room closes in as the audience are drawn into conversation with Jarvis, who wittily explains the unexpected pertinence of their next song, the groovy House Music All Night Long. Debuted in March 2020 just before the pandemic hit, lyrics about feeling trapped indoors would prove to become all too real since then.
Halloween may have been over, but that didn’t stop Jarvis from further winning the crowd over by tossing them sweets. The crowd graciously received and with his charm, this somehow feels like a perfectly normal point in the gig. The creation of Beyond the Pale is then explained. JARV IS started as a live experiment, with the songs that would go on to make the album tested and tweaked based on the audience’s reactions. It felt only fitting to hear them live as they were made.
Each song was preceded by a little story or observation from Jarvis. The crowd were encouraged to dance off any covid curves put on during lockdown to the surprisingly rollercoaster paced Fat Children. Things then took a turn for the bizarre with the introduction to Big Susie. Told in comedic fashion, it turned out to be written while thinking about the time he was living in a Camden squat house, cold and littered with shit from the drug dealer’s whippets.
The highlight of the night came from the ever more pertinent Running the World, which was an unlikely contender for Christmas Number 1 in 2019. Preceded by an uncanny Boris Johnson impersonation and a discussion about the recent COP26 Conference, the song was finally introduced: “C**ts are still running the world, but not for long...”
''Jarvis was met by love and adoration from the audience every time''
An out of the ordinary set continued with the experimental Must I Evolve?, a Guinness World Record holding song for the highest amount of yeses, embarking on a whistlestop tour of humanity, from caves to raves. This was followed by a brilliant rendition of French classic Aline, which was covered for Wes Anderson’s latest film ‘The French Dispatch'.
The closing song My Legendary Girlfriend, an early Pulp single, highlighted the endurance of Jarvis Cocker throughout the years. While his latest work with JARV IS may not be of the same cultural relevance as Pulp in their pomp, his appeal continues even after almost a decade’s hiatus. Whether the song was an unreleased work in progress, or an early Pulp single before their breakthrough, Jarvis was met by love and adoration from the audience every time. While the music changes, his iconic style, moves, and aura mesmerise the audience all the same. JARV IS and remains a true national treasure.
Written by: Alexander Melnikov
Edited by: Amrit Virdi