BBC Radio 1 - Sound City '93
THE WEDDING PRESENT
"THEY'RE THE Status Quo of Sheffield, mate!" The voice of Radio 1DJ Mark Goodier booms out through a buzzing tannoy, introducing Sheffield's own well-sung heroes - Pulp.
Regardless of their 14-year lifespan and undeniable will to carry on, Pulp have created a (sure miss) pop formula, a kind of individuality through insanity, that actually works. They emulate normality and thrive on its dryness (a case of the John Shuttleworth's), exist on the otherside of The Real World, yet provide an invaluable insight into the reality of everyday existence. A band who bring 'alternative' humour, excitement and ill-fitting garments back to the live stage. A band who make high-flying pop for life's casualties.
Jarvis Cocker, the Prince Regent of Pop, has inadvertently turned his band into the Buzzcocks of our generation, who will eventually monopolise the singles market with their subversive, sexually misguided undertones and seedy elements of surprise. Tonight they bounce through should-be hit after hit, from current single 'Razzmatazz', through the gloriously jaunty 'Babies', climaxing with 'OU' and Jarvis hoisting himself on to the rafters to dangle neck down—swaying like a newly hung victim.
But whilst Pulp reek of abnormality, The Wedding Present offer a slice of ordinary life, albeit fused with seething passion. The Weddoes are living proof that you can combine football, girlfriends and work without compromise (no mean feat). Tonight the Weddoes tear the place apart during 40 minutes of sincerely heartfelt, unadulterated fury.
David Gedge, all seething, unsophisticated charm and flapping arms (who said Joe Cocker?) with every wrenching high note, pauses, mutters a few dedications through Radio 1's airways before tripping into 'Silver Shorts'.
Apart from 'Brassneck', they unashamedly play nothing pre-'Seamonster' (despite obligatory requests for 'Kennedy'), though when you've written as many wonderful songs as they have in one year there seems little point to wallow in past glories. There's the secretly blissful 'Out Of Space' (the best of the 12 singles), 'Flying Saucer' and the glorious 'Loveriest', which begins as a whale noise and ends in a punk rock guitar riot.
HEY, DAVE! GUESS WHAT...
THE WEDDING PRESENT / PULP
FOR one week only, we're in Sheffield Sound City.
If Pulp had their way (with us), this would be Sheffield Sex City. The legacy of those electro pop tarts, Human League, is clear; Pulp songs are sordid tales of life in draylon-swathed suburbia, of desperate intrigues and tawdry affairs, tragically absurd. Pulp are a freakish cabaret starring Jarvis, a man as strange and legendary as His Legendary Girlfriend. But you get the sneaking feeling that your mother would like him (approval being something else entirely.)
Tonight, Pulp are unusually subdued. They are still suggestive of exotic / erotic possibilities, despoiling our innocence with their innuendo, the music marked out at off-kilter angles but - the essence of entertainment being promise - we are left wanting much, much more. Nevertheless, newly converted Pulp People are already hatching plans to have their babies.
Both tonight's bands dwell in Little England. But where Pulp are your weirdo neighbours into kinky sex, the ones you hear through the walls at 3am, The Wedding Present are the anorak-clad bachelor uncles who like to discuss their corns over the garden fence. Somehow, they're nightmarish because they're just - too nice.
Pulp have perfect pop tunes, a positively indecent way with words, and charisma slurping out of every available orifice. Yet they arrived to the sound of near silence. The Weddoes delight in rumbling, mumbling and stumbling, and have all the allure of the sofa on daytime TV. When they appear, the Leadmill erupts.
Pulp surfed in on raptuous applause to ooze one of their best performances yet.
The brilliantly strange Jarvis further embellished his global megastardom with a fine display, including hanging from a beam for no reason.