Where and When: Main Stage, Saturday
Vibe: For most Isle Of Wight Festival punters, analysis of the importance of Pulp’s first UK comeback show didn’t seem to be on the agenda. While many had been expecting at least a few lungs to collapse in the build-up to probably the most hotly-anticipated comeback of 2011 (and there are a lot of hotly-anticipated comebacks in 2011), the atmosphere out front was more nonchalantly jovial than chest-collapsingly delirious. This was, quite simply, the masses bang up for the greatest karaoke session of their lives, and Pulp didn’t disappoint.
Best bit: ‘Disco 2000’ and ‘Common People’ were obviously flawless in the respect that they’re songs so innately perfect that any kind of delivery of them is always going to be met with euphoria. But it was probably the rushy build of ‘F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E’ that was the surprising standout.
Low point: No duds – it’d be pretty obtuse of them to pick anything other than thoroughbred winners for their hour-and-ten-minute set, but maybe ‘I Spy’ was the perfect point for a refill.
Banter: Ah yes, welcome back, Jarvis. Word was that Pulp were incredibly nervous about their comeback shows, but you couldn’t tell. For better or perverse Jarv was on the most sexual form of his life, and between groin gyrations found time to refer to the locals as “caulkheads” (a term meaning natives of the island) and deliver warm thank yous for the response they received. Hardly hilarious poison-tongue stuff, but enough of the typical Jarvis wit to get us through.
Verdict: Things have changed since Pulp went away – we now listen in an era where, as The Darkness have found to their benefit, any kind of band comeback is rewarded with a profile vastly inflated beyond that enjoyed just before the hiatus kicked in. Lest we forget, the Sheffield lot’s last album, 2001’s ‘We Love Life’, was hardly received like a victory lap. Tonight Pulp looked and sounded like they deserved to be on the biggest stages – but without the sense of event making it as far as the front row maybe this wasn’t the right one to start off with.
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