Live Review

Reading 2011: Pulp, Main Stage

Remembering the first time seems far less important than they promise there will be a next.

‘The first time we played here was exactly 17 years ago to the day,’ Jarvis Cocker recounts. It’s possible some of tonight’s crowd weren’t even conceived when Pulp made their Reading bow; it’s hard not to feel old.

Not that any such worries seem to be troubling Sheffield’s reunited heroes. After a summer touring Europe, the final leg of their announced live plans is in sight. Tomorrow they’ll top the bill in Leeds, but tonight they lay foundations for The Strokes. Truthfully, we all know Casablancas and co are going to have trouble following this.

Opening with ‘Do You Remember The First Time?’ (we’ve already ascertained most probably don’t), there’s a ‘dedication’ to the rioters before ‘Joyriders’ (‘They were just playing Grand Theft Auto outdoors’) and a rapturous outing for ‘Mis-Shapes’.

Granted, ‘Pencil Skirt’ and ‘I-Spy’ might fly above the heads of many attendees at what is essentially a Rock Festival For Young People, but there’s no denying that Pulp have hits to outclass almost all their peers. ‘Disco 2000’ causes the closest Reading 2011 has seen to spontaneous euphoria, while - with Richard Hawley quietly back amongst the fold - there’s nothing quite as anthemic as ‘Common People’ in full flow.

They might have played here first last millennium, but when a band can span the generations as brilliantly as Pulp, remembering the first time seems far less important than they promise there will be a next.

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