Albert Hall, Manchester
With his fabled stage moves still wonderfully intact, Jarvis Cocker leads his current band through songs that quizzically examine an ever-changing world
Jarvis Cocker sashays on – all velvet jacket and garish kipper tie. He throws some shapes, then simply stands, arms weirdly akimbo, to rapturous applause. The pandemic stopped him touring, but he hasn’t forgotten how to make an entrance.
Jarv Is … are finally touring 2020’s Beyond the Pale, the 58-year-old’s best set of songs since Pulp. His band now includes a harpist and a violinist. Otherwise, the breathy asides and Roxy Music/Scott Walker influences remain, and his stage moves – Elvis Presley meets tipsy English teacher at the local nightclub – are so ingrained they’re effortless. Lyrically, though, he’s taking ever more askew glances at an ever-changing world. House Music All Night Long – not only dance music, but domestic music – began as a rumination on ageing but accidentally ended up “describing what we’ve all been doing for the last two years”. The terrific Must I Evolve? traces mankind’s de-evolution from the big bang to a rave in a tunnel near the M25. A haunting new song – currently titled both Slow Jam and Bad Friday – describes a conversation with Jesus, who is bored to tears with talking about the crucifixion, and the lyrics perhaps reflect Cocker’s own weariness of talking about Britpop, 90s tabloid hell and the aftermath of shaking his bottom at Michael Jackson at the Brits.
At Boiler Shop, Newcastle (Wednesday, 3 November), the Invisible Wind Factory (5 November). Then touring.