18 November 2001: Pulp – Rock City, Nottingham, England, UK

What can you say about Jarvis? Tall, glasses, not really a hero type, lanky, disjointed and theatrical. All of this makes the man what he is and makes pulp a superb band to see live. I first saw pulp in the late eighties, supporting someone, who shall remain completely forgotten, at (i think it was) the leadmill (but even that has been lost in the depths of time,together with the ticket stub). Anyway, from what i can remember, they weren’t very memorable. Home town band plays hometown gig type thing.

These days pulp are a completely different species to what they once were. From the very first moment they appeared on the stage, to the last breath of delight from the crowd at the end pulp were beautiful, inspiring and above all memorable.

The band appeared and started with “weeds”, to the backdrop of a time lapse movie of weeds growing (this doesn’t sound as visually good as it is). This was followed by “the night that minnie timperley died” and then “lonely boy” (a revamped version of the b-side). Jarvis’s stage presence and showmanship won a packed to capacity venue over immediately. Remembering trips to nottingham past, he name checked a few local landmarks and dredged up some local myths (two girls for each boy), always keeping the crowd laughing and often leading into the next song as with the two birds for every bloke thing which led seamlessly to (via the comment “the only birds i ever saw were”) “the birds in your garden”.

Pulp burned through the tracks. “bad cover version” (spectacular),”this is hardcore”,”monday morning”, “f.e.e.l.i.n.g. C.a.l.l.e.d. L.o.v.e” and “the trees”, amongst others, and then they finished with “sunrise” (if you’ve never heard this track live then go and see), leaving the crowd yelling for more.

They returned, rejuvenated, for “sorted for e’s & wizz” and made the night by playing “babies” (which was unfortunately spoilt by the girl in behind screaming the words to what was apparently the only song she knew (don’t give up the day job)). The gig was ended with “(do you know, i can’t remember)” and pulp left the stage, closely followed by jarvis, shortly after saying that this was the first night of the tour and he hoped we’d enjoyed it. I’ll say yes to that.

If you’re a pulp fan go and see them as soon as you can because you’ll love this show. The new songs sit together with the old friends and you soon forget they’re not playing a “best of” set. If you’re not a fan, you’ll still go home thinking “wow!”.

Nothing to do with pulp, just a gripe about this, historically excellent, venue. Don’t expect to get a drink too quickly. Three bar staff and one lager pump per bar leads to major crowds waiting to be served, so at least a twenty minute wait is to be expected. And to add to the insult, we then have to drink from half pint glasses (because “we’ve run out of pint glasses”. The words piss up, couldn’t, in, organise and brewery spring to mind). Comedy moment – sixteen halves of lager being passed back through a crowd five deep to the eight thirsty people, waiting impatiently at the back (ready to juggle two glasses each and a lighted fag, presumably).

If you want to see a great band, go and see pulp! If you want to have a drink, go to a pub!

01 November 2001: The Waterboys – Rock City, Nottingham, England, UK

At approximately 20:15 the Waterboys appeared in front of a rather quiet and comparatively small rock city audience and launched into a well received version of “we will not be lovers”. Mike scott and steve wickham reflecting the music produced by their guitar and fiddle perfectly. The end of the song was met by sporadic clapping and mike scott’s comment “you are a very quiet audience”. This precisely summed up the entire evening and led to it being a slightly strange Waterboys performance. The early start did not help matters (20:00 hours is an awful time for the main band to take to the stage), although this could not be helped as the venue had to be cleared ready for “club night”, which took place immediately after the performance. To be fair, and to give credit to the band and the performance, the audience “woke up” at some point during the gig and realised that they were there for something special!

A beautiful version of “too close to heaven” from the new album of the same name, was the highlight of the new songs performed, with mike on the piano, putting everything he had into it. These new songs were met with only mild interest from the crowd, which was, i feel, largely there for another chance to hear all the old favourites. Mike’s announcement that there was a new album out was met with absolute silence, which lead to his comment “you haven’t heard of it have you?” which summed up its release perfectly. This is a shame because these songs, all originally recorded around the same time as the “fisherman’s blues” album are all up to mike’s high song writing standards and form a perfect compliment to that album.

The highlight of the set was always going to be the old favourites and with versions of “the pan within”, “the whole of the moon”, “glastonbury song”, “has anyone here seen hank?” and “crown”, the crowd were not disappointed. “the whole of the moon” was greeted with cheers that only the best artists can ever really have claimed to have heard and the band did the song proud, playing it with a power that was never captured on the original vinyl. Mike announced “the pan within” with a theatrical whisper, gradually chanting the words “the pan within” louder and louder before breaking into the songs opening. Unfortunately, the band stopped almost immediately and mike disappeared for a minute or so, while the band were left to entertain us with some instrumental niceties. On mike’s reappearance, “the pan within” was restarted and was definitely worth the wait. “glastonbury song” and “crown” were performed with the rocking performances that they deserved and “has anyone here seen hank?” was dedicated to all the people waiting to come in for rock city’s “club night”.

With everyone having left the stage apart from the keyboard player richard naiff, and mike, we were treated to a vocal and keyboard version of “don’t bang the drum” which, in my opinion, was worth the ticket price in itself.

After playing “fisherman’s blues” the band left the stage to loud applause from an audience now eager for more. And they didn’t disappoint, returning to the stage to play a rousing version of “on my way to heaven”. After this mike toyed with the audience by producing a pair of big black sunglasses to loud cheers. This was followed by “this is the sea”, the closing track from the classic album of the same name. The evening was complete.

The Waterboys were once one of the greatest and most popular bands on the planet and could have owned the world, and this performance showed why. As a front man and a songwriter mike scott is in a league of his own and can have any audience eating out of his hands. So, it is a shame when the Waterboys are performing to small audiences, with little or no media or record company support. I suspect this is partly because the “music people” think that their music is inaccessible (not so) and that the public do not want the Waterboys. I think the truth is slightly stranger. I think that mike, after disappearing to ireland with steve in the late eighties, has found where he wants to be and i hope that he is happy and long continues to write great songs.

Oh yeah! And mike (if you ever read this), you know that bloke bono, well “it should have been you” and the world would be a much better place.