Jarvis Cocker live in London: French ballads in a very Wes Anderson setting

Le Sans Blague, 180 Strand, October 10: the Sheffield crooner pays tribute to the auteur's new movie The French Dispatch – and Bill Murray's in the house

He’s surely the most Parisian man to ever be born in Sheffield, so it makes total sense that the ever-chic Jarvis Cocker has chummed up avec Wes Anderson to help out with the soundtrack to the studied director’s newest film, The French Dispatch. While the UK’s capital is humming with the excitement of the first proper London Film Festival in two years, it’s not a screening of the movie that’s got the Wes-erratti excited, but rather a tres jolie pop-up event in which the film’s Le Sans Blague café has been faithfully recreated in a central London gallery, with Cocker masquerading as Tip Top, a chansonnier of repute.

With the additions of a giant free-for-all cheeseboard and one of the film’s all-star cast members wandering about the very, very Wes Anderson room (actual Bill Murray is here tonight!), which is painted bright yellow and baby blue, Jarvis saunters in wearing a black velvet flared pantsuit. If this were anyone else you’d assume it was a costume hired for the event, but this being Jarvis Cocker, he’s probably had the elegant two-piece knocking around in his wardrobe for decades.

Backed by members of JARV IS – his band have got le memo and some are wearing actual berets – the very first public performance of Jarvis’ Chansons d’Ennui Tip-Top, an entire album of interpretations of 1960s-era French pop songs, rounds out Wes’s latest world with a wry authenticity. “Merci beaucoup,” offers Jarvis after a perky ‘Contact’, an impossibly swinging song originally written by Serge Gainsbourg for his lover Brigitte Bardot. It’s not the only dose of Gainsbourg we get tonight, with the grubby groove of 1968 single ‘Requiem Pour Un Con’ letting Jarvis go to town with his pretty decent French accent.


Following a little break – Jarvis suggests of the intermission, “There’s quite a lot of cheese outside and beaucoup de cornichons,” directing the audience to the buffet – the band return, this time accompanied by Stereolab’s Lætitia Sadier for the Dalida and Alain Delon duet ‘Paroles, Paroles’ – which, she tells us with a deeply Gallic sigh, is about “bad men”, which makes perfect sense in any language.

It’s the belting ‘Aline’, though – the only of Jarvis’ covers to actually feature on The French Dispatch soundtrack – that proves the hit of the night. So much so that Jarvis decides to sing the dreamy, appropriately filmic Chrisophe ballad twice, the final time hip-shaking around a spiral staircase that he finds in the corner of the room. A tip-top evening’s entertainment, for sure.

Jarvis played:
‘Dans Ma Chambre’
‘La Tendresse’
‘Amour, Je Te Cherche’
‘Mao Mao’
‘Il Pleut Sur La Gare’
‘Paroles, Paroles’ (featuring Laetitia Sadier)
‘Requiem Pour Un Con’
‘Mon Ami La Rose’
‘Les Gens Sont Fous, Les Temps Sont Flous’
‘Aline’ (again!)