With Pulp set to make their first festival appearance since 2002 at Primavera Sound 2011 in Spain, Daniel Fahey re-lives their festival history from their unforgettable Glastonbury show in 1995 to their final days at Reading and Leeds.
It’s Glastonbury 1995, 80,000 are over the fence with a ticket, and countless more without one, the perimeter boundary having collapsed at the top of the farm. If ravers aren’t shitting themselves in the newly erected Dance Tent after a half a pill too many, one pale Yorkshire man must be…
‘At least the weather’s holding off’, organiser Michael Eavis must be thinking, the seams of his festival seemingly about to snap: The Stone Roses, his original Saturday night headliners, have pulled out last minute because apparently guitarist John Squire can’t ride a bike – he’s broken his collarbone. Evan Dando has been booed off after his toddling a little too long with some junk, arriving hours late and now an evening mist is making its way across Worthy Farm with revellers tucking their jumper-ed arms around their bodies to keep warm.
But across the farm there’s a buzz, a darting-eyed atmosphere just about balanced above nervy. There’s a feeling of stomach-tickling excitement too: something magical is causing the infamous Glastonbury leylines to vibrate.
Step forward a pencil-thin poet, with his trademark specs off and a face pastier than the pink tie loosely hanging around his neck. Jarvis Cocker may not know it yet, but this is to become a festival-defining moment and a career changing 90 minutes, but first, let’s rewind a year back to 1994.
‘Have You Seen Her Lately?’ at Glastonbury 1994
Far from the reaches of superstardom, Pulp are playing to a few thousand people on the NME Stage. Still indie misfits, the group’s fourth album ‘His ‘n’ Hers’ has prompted their breakthrough towards the good ship Britpop, but it won’t fully set sail for another 12 months. Here, Cocker warbles like Morrissey over ‘Have You Seen Her Lately?’ as the sun disappears behind the greying clouds and the fidgety dance moves that will grace the Pyramid Stage in 1995 start to emerge.
‘Common People’ at Glastonbury 1995
With their latest ‘Different Class’ album still in the works, Pulp produce a set that’s just that. Looking more assured than the previous June, it’s to become a classic setlist, even if not everyone has heard all the tracks yet. ‘Sorted For Es And Whizz’, a track encompassing the dance boom spirit, gets its first airing and you get the feeling that, come morning, many will have left an important part of their brain somewhere in a field in Somerset. “If a lanky get like me can do it, and us lot yeah, you can do it too,” Cocker tells a packed field as the group work their way into one of the most epic renditions of ‘Common People’ ever as a set closer.
‘Babies’ at Reading Festival 2002
Following the high of Glastonbury, Cocker put forward the idea of V Festival in 1996 – playing two outdoor shows in a row at different venues. He also had his draws down at the BRITS, making it far more interesting than it usually is, mooning Michael Jackson. By the time the band came round to Reading and Leeds in 2002, they were already readying a greatest hits album and a final farewell festival of their own, Auto Festival in Sheffield. “This is a story about something that happened years ago, but is still living on,” says Cocker introducing ‘Babies’, summing up the sentiment of the band at the time as they grew old gracefully.
Pulp will play Primavera Sound 2011 alongside the likes of PJ Harvey and Interpol with the music festival set to take place at Parc Del Forum, Barcelona from 26-28 May.
Primavera Sound tickets are on sale now priced at €170.
Click here to buy Primavera Sound tickets.
Click here to see where else the band are playing this summer.