A treat for West London on Wednesday when Jarvis Cocker bought the kind of evening only he can to the Shepherds Bush Empire, to celebrate Rough Trade’s 30th birthday. Jarvis promised a combination of a lecture, gig and disco and certainly delivered, hopping from Wogan to Westfield and then straight into great new solo tracks.
The crowd was a friendly, pleased-to-be there selection of mainly thirty somethings, revelling in a bit of Britpop reminiscence. The venue was packed out pretty early with lots of people coming to catch Jeffrey Lewis, the New York comic book artist/’anti- folk’ singer songwriter (apparently no-one’s really sure what anti-folk is). Lewis’ clever lyrics and own charm went down well and set the tone for the banter to come with his comic book and song tribute to the history of the legendary Rough Trade label.
Onto the main event, and a roar went up when Jarvis entered the stage in his unique ‘designer Oxfam’ style, suit jacket and tie complete with new beard. He had the crowd wrapped round his little finger from the first understated words – Greg at Gigwise isn’t wrong when he says ’It isn't an insult to the quality of his solo material that many highlights come between songs.’ Whether it’s the perils of Westfield, or the wonders of Wogan, short lecture breaks are almost the natural conclusion from a man who has some of the best song break banter ever. For anyone who has never seen Jarvis live or interviewed, he has a kind of drawling charm and considered wit, which comes through as strongly in his speech as lyrics, never failing to charm and often getting you laughing out loud.
Around the mini-lectures, favourites from his 2006 solo debut album ‘The Jarvis Cocker Record’ such as ‘Fat Children’, I Will Kill Again’ and ‘Black Magic’ went down a treat. Previews of new tracks like ‘Angela’, ‘Girls Like It Too’ and especially ‘I'm Not Deep, I Am Profoundly Shallow’ got fans excited for the promised next album release. This gig was full of faithful Jarvis fans, so whilst there are always whispers in the crowd of hope for Pulp songs, there’s a lot of love for his excellent solo material. The rousing third encore, brought a massive sing-along of what is currently his big closer ‘Cunts Are Still Running The World’, a witty rant against the powers-that-be from the eternal outsider.
It was a satisfied crowd that stormed out of the building – or stayed on for the DJ session from Jarvis himself – having enjoyed a night of top-class entertainment from a living British legend. Hurrah for Rough Trade and hurrah for Jarvis!
By Jaz Cummins