When Jarvis Cocker is patiently waiting in their snaking queue for your sold-out London show, you know you’re onto something. It’s safe to say that, in his tweed jacket, the Pulp frontman stands out from the crowd of leather-clad punks kids at Hackney’s beloved Moth Club, but the man’s clearly got taste. The venue is so packed, the entrance so badly bottle-necked, that late-comers have to enter from behind the counter that connects to the bar next door.
Well – is there any wonder? Melbourne punks Amyl and the Sniffers – comprised of singer Amy Taylor and band members Bryce Wilson, Declan Martens and Gus Romer – recently made and eyebrow-raising move to Rough Trade, with a new album due next year. Tonight, they tear through tracks from breakneck EPs ‘Big Attractions’ and ‘Giddy Up’ (the latter was written, recorded and released in just twelve hours), the mood that of cartoonish, good-natured anarchy.
Kids swing from the rafters, crowdsurfing from the front row back to the lighting rig at the centre of the room. At any great punk show, there’s the sense that everything could fall apart at any given moment – though it’s not usually felt quite so literally. Taylor shadowboxes at the start of the show, later flirting with peril as she crowdsurfs at that lighting rig, still managing – somehow – to shriek through the pummelling chorus to ‘Westgate’. She clings to ceiling, seeming to walk along it, defying gravity, as though she’s possessed.
At one point, she chugs from an enormous bottle of water, quipping, “If you can’t get high – get hydrated”. When she passes poppers around the rest of the band, it seems you can do both, after all. This is simple, straight-up three-chord punk, but delivered with such gusto, and with such brilliantly timed, chanted backing vocals (“She’s not a loser!”) that you’d think it had never been done before. The enthusiasm is catching. Halfway through this uproarious set, mulleted guitarist Martens jokes, “That’s pretty much all we’ve got. The rest is all covers.”
In the end, they play only one cover, a fizzing, tongue-in-cheek rendition of ACDC’s ‘Dirty Deeds Done Cheap’ during the encore (there’s an audience chant of “ONE MORE SONG!”, and this isn’t the kind of band to disappoint). The energy is so palpable that you kind of expect Amyl and the Sniffers to play forever – it’s that kind of show. NME clocks Jarvis stood near the back, bopping his head. He’s on board, and you should be too.