Returning to where it all began obviously meant a lot to Jarvis Cocker.
From the start of this homecoming gig - their first in Sheffield for a decade - he set out to make it clear that it was being from Sheffield that inspired much of their music.
It really was a night for those who knew Sheffield well and it was as intimate a gig as I’ve ever seen at a venue the size of the arena.
As Jarvis repeated, they’ve gone the “long way round” to get there (with their tour taking them to New York, Brazil and Chile) but he still gets nervous playing to his home crowd.
There was no support band but a series of Pulp-inspired videos, introduced by a large green light which beamed out reams of endless build-up and slightly tedious chat of the “The waiting’s nearly over” and “It’s about to get big” ilk. Opening with Do You Remember The First Time? met with a rapturous applause.
In fact, there was an ecstatic reaction to all of the back catalogue with Common People and Disco 2000 causing the entire arena to erupt into a sing-a-long frenzy. It was ten years since I last saw Jarvis perform.
He still dances in a way that I find spellbounding.
In anyone else, it would be awkward and gangly but for him, it’s part of what makes him iconic and among the best performers I’ve ever seen. Fellow Sheffield-born legend Richard Hawley joined the band for several songs including the first live performance of Born To Cry. Among the highlights were when Jarvis introduced his ‘Time Travel’ concept, complete with toilet rolls thrown out into the crowd, which was a nod to the effects the band used on stage before they could afford all the “fancy” effects they have now. It was an unforgettable night which showed what seemed a genuine gratitude for the city where it all began.
It was humbling to be part of it and also to see that, though both Jarvis and his fans are all looking a touch older these days, we’re both still very much at home and happy in each others’ company. After playing Monday Morning, Jarvis admitted that he was out-of-breath and said he has no idea why they put that second on the set list.
Thank you Pulp, it was emotional - and, as Jarvis joked, the 12,000-strong crowd may have missed out on the X Factor final but they witnessed something that meant a lot to a city proud to call him their own. *Jen Foster