Gig review: Pulp at the Utilita Arena, Sheffield
Over the weekend close to 27,000 revellers packed in to Sheffield’s Utilita Arena to watch two superb shows from one of the UK’s most iconic bands.
A friend and fellow Sheffield icon Richard Hawley, opened up for Pulp and dipped in to his extensive back catalogue, performing the likes of Open Up Your Door, Coles Corner and Heart of Oak, gaining him a great ovation from the appreciative crowd, clamouring for a local nostalgic music fix.
Shortly before 9pm , letters flashed up on giant screens either side of the stage. "Make some noise," the capacity crowd needed no encouragement. "We hear you," Pulp replied before the curtains opened and charismatic frontman Jarvis Cocker, wearing a black velvet suit, dramatically ascended on a platform to the stage against the backdrop of a full moon – an entrance befitting for one of the best in the business.
Cocker kicked things off with I Spy and surprisingly so early into his set, Disco 2000 which was greeted by a cacophony of cheers as orange confetti showered the crowd. Mis-Shapes and Something Changed swiftly followed- the latter was dedicated to late bassist Steve Mackey who sadly passed away in March 2023.
The video screens earlier had announced that this was gig number 533 for Pulp. Cocker moved around the stage, jumping from platforms and performing like a youthful, exuberant 20-something, not a 59-year-old industry veteran- the energy and enthusiasm didn’t falter once.
The setlist was varied and eclectic and the middle part of the set featured classics; Weeds, Pink Glove, F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E. and the controversial Sorted for E’s and Wizz.
Throughout the evening, the whole production and visual aesthetics of the show were just mesmerising. Probably the best show I’ve ever seen visually- match by Cocker’s energy, flamboyance and superb crowd interaction- akin to holding court with friends in the local pub, albeit accompanied by a 10-piece orchestra.
This is Hardcore, Do You Remember The First Time?, Babies and Sunrise closed proceedings. The latter track saw Richard Hawley jump back onto the stage with his guitar and play along.
The curtains weren’t closed for long, before Cocker, sporting a mischievous grin, peeks through them before bursting back out to a rapturous applause for a double encore. Like a Friend and Underwear were featured, before Cocker teases the crowd with “Is that it or have I missed a song?” The opening chords of Common People were enough to rouse the crowd with a noise like no other I’ve heard before….a real goosebump moment. Cocker concluded the evening with his second encore which featured After You, Razzmatazz and Glory Days.
The bumper crowd slowly shuffled out of the Arena to the tram stop and carpark with excited chatter and singing filling the air. A truly electrifying performance from one of the UK’s finest bands, made that bit more special in the ‘Steel City’.