To a Pulp fan, living in America was always a difficult situation. Across the pond, there was Pulp—my favorite band—climbing the UK pop charts, headlining Glastonbury Festival, and dropping trou onstage during a Michael Jackson performance. If Oasis and Blur battled it out for chart-topping popularity, Pulp were the cool kids who never gave a fuck what Liam said about Damon in Melody Maker. Jarvis Cocker's rollicking band was the pinnacle of Brit-hip, and because of it, they were doomed here in States. American shows were extremely rare and usually one-off performances (The Tibetan Freedom concert, anyone?) on the other side of the country. As the '90s ticked away, Pulp fans like myself were content with fourth-generation VHS bootlegs, knowing that a live Pulp show is something we'd never see in person.
And we never did. Pulp split, er, "went on indefinite hiatus," in 2002, and those VHS tapes were unceremoniously exchanged for YouTube links and rare MP3 outtakes. But as long as Jarvis Cocker existed, Pulp fans had hope. The lanky frontman—who has always somehow been able to be both stone-cold sexy and absolutely nerdy at any given moment—went solo last year. Of course, even something as simple as that wasn't without worry for fans in the States. Jarvis, the album, was released in the UK last year, with no announced US release date, or label, to be found. Thankfully Rough Trade USA wised up and set the album free, releasing it stateside in early April of this year.
As far as seminal-frontman-going-solo goes, Jarvis is as fine as they come. Still as sexy as ever, Cocker croons with confidence and wit as he belts out songs of lust, death, and the same middle-class restlessness he made famous with Pulp's Different Class.
Of course, you can't always win with Cocker. When Jarvis giveth, he taketh away. For his initial solo tour, he's not coming to Portland. Instead, he'll be in Seattle, which as far as I'm concerned is damn well close enough. The last time Cocker, or Pulp, came anywhere near the Pacific Northwest was a San Francisco show in 1996. So please, take this chance to gas up your ride, call your friends, and head to Seattle to see one of Britain's finest exports. A show like this won't happen again.
Jarvis Cocker performs Monday, April 30 at the Showbox, in Seattle.