Do you remember the first time?


Since reuniting Pulp have played at Glastonbury, on cruise ships and are doing a one-off Sheffield show. Rachael Clegg reports

IT’S HARD to think of Sheffield’s City School as the incubator of Brit Pop.

But it was here in 1978 that a young Jarvis Cocker formed Pulp. It was a vision that had longevity – now, 34 years later, the band is preparing to play again at Sheffield Arena.

The date follows a string of reunion dates that kicked off when the line-up from the band’s Different Class era - which includes Jarvis Cocker - of course, Nick Banks, Russell Senior, Candida Doyle, Steve Mackay and Mark Webber - reunited last year.

Yet, its location - the vast Motorpoint Arena - marks a dramatic departure from the band’s origins as an underground art-school, synthetic-clad band which started its career at Rotherham Arts Centre.

But there have been other momentous changes alongside the band’s own transformation from obscure arty-pop act to stadium-filling phenomena. Class - the theme that lay at the heart of many of Pulp’s songs - has been turned on its head in the UK since Pulp reigned the charts in the 1990s.

Since Pulp’s most popular anthem, Common People, was released in 1995, the make-up of the pop-writing culture from which Cocker and his bandmates emerged has gone from working class to upper middle class.

The days of dole-financed song-writing with musicians’ grants and council-flat residences have long gone. Today, according to one statistic, 60 per cent of artists in the UK have gone to public school compared with one per cent in 1990.

Pulp’s lyrics, which cite nylon underwear, grim-decrepid bus stops and roaches on the wall, now appear to be merely poetic in a music scene where many artists have enjoyed a privileged education and write songs on £1,000 Apple Mac computers.

Yet, whether or not Pulp’s lyrics resonate as lyrical flourishes or real, gritty observations doesn’t matter - their fans, both old and new, are not going away.

Such is the demand to see Pulp that only last year the band hit the cruise ships, though not the sort of cruise ship packed with post-hip replacement pensioners. Pulp performed on the SS Coachella - the ‘music festival at sea’, organised by the team behind Coachella, an annual event in the USA where Pulp also played earlier this year.

The band sailed the ocean waves on the Celebrity Silhouette, a 122,400-tonne liner boasting 12 restaurants and cafes, a casino, designer shops and health spas - a far cry from laying in bed at night watching roaches climb the wall.

But the cruise ship appearance was just one event in the band’s reunion phase, and this show in Sheffield is a one-off to celebrate this hectic chapter. It also marks the potential for another life for Pulp, which Cocker has said, is open to suggestion.

In an interview with NME he said: “...the next thing is; would you make some new music? I’ve enjoyed the fact that we haven’t been doing any new stuff, because I feel that’s kept it quite simple. It’s a hard one. We haven’t been in the studio or anything. I don’t know what will happen in the future.”

But one thing, for now, is certain, that Pulp is playing at the Motorpoint Arena on Saturday. Motorpoint Arena Sheffield