Wednesday, May 25, 2005

From Rufus to Jarvis, and the pleasure of giving

Following AnnaWaits recent and excellent post on the Rufus Wainwright gig at York, and my comment, we've been in correspondence about other (musical) obsessions. Specifically, Pulp.

Now I won't claim I was early to the Pulp party, but once fully on-board I was trawling the back catalogue like a good 'un. Making friends at Record Sales. Being geeky about my gigs. That sort of thing. After the crush at the Heineken festival in Leeds Roundhay park, I trailed across the UK, tracking Pulp gigs wherever I could lay my hands on them within my sadly limited budget: Birmingham, Blackpool, Warrington, Stoke, Finsbury Park... (The last of these as recorded in The Park is Mine... and OOH! due for release on DVD with the other previous video production Feeling called Live... ooh, I sense some goodies!)

Anyway, those who know me will be aware that there is one important gig missed off that list: the ever special "Keep Calm" performance at the Highbury Garage. A fanclub organised gig that luckily I got to know about from people in the know from the fan-club. A venue of less than 500 people. A hot sunny summer's day. Jarvis within handreach for the entire concert. Holy guacomole Bat-Folk. What a gig.

Of course, this was made even more special by being one of the earliest arrivals to the backstage area, along with some other die-hard fans. This meant I met the band, took some rather nifty pics, and got some much treasured autographs! (I had previously, and almost accidentally, stumbled into the band post-gig at Stoke on Trent when myself and my friend I had travelled with spotted a small crowd - about 10 people - at the back of the venue as we went to get our taxi. There was Pulp. Jarvis tall and elegant in the ridiculous OTT black dogstooth coat he wore for the detective sequence in the This is Hardcore video).

Anyway, as I intimated, Highbury was a high point. You can check out a review and pics here and here (I even think some of the images may be mine!) But the gig also resulted in other friends being very envious. So me being the generous soul I try to be, I plotted to reward their friendship.

Thus when Pulp returned to Birmingham for a Radio One gig, with the now late lamented John Peel, I brought my plan into action. I took with me the sleeves from two extra copies I had purchased of the then recent Pulp single (Trees/Sunrise). And I got Jarvis to sign them: one to Chrissie and one to Celeste. He was a bit astonished that I wasn't asking for anything for myself ("nothing for you?") but that almost made it more worthwhile.

I had to wait some time to give Chrissie hers because once she'd twigged I had something for her she wouldn't let me trust Royal mail with it! But Celeste I caught before she went to New York for a research trip (where, co-incidentally I was due to meet her a few days later on my own research trip!). I wandered in and gave her this brown paper bag: "I thought I'd get you a little something" I said. She took out the single and was well chuffed. And then, on my suggestion, she opened up the CD case...

Much glee would be an understatement! Jarvis had written "Celeste, where's Daphne? love Jarvis" - in honour of the then Glastonbury bombed girly duo Daphne and Celeste. The reaction (eyes wide, a little shriek of delight) was a joy to behold. Of course, being amidst a bunch of largely middle-aged academics barely aware of the contemporary pop scene is not the best scenario for wanting to shout from the rooftops in excitement. Nevertheless, I took much pleasure from her inability to contain herself when a student came for an appointment with her: first words heard as I wandered down the corridor? "Jarvis Cocker has signed a single to me!"

Music can be such a joy: and not just the music itself but our encounter with it. The fun of telling others about your musical passions and discovering they share them or find new artistes through the conversation. The thrill of the live performance, the chat in the bar, the band sending you emails, chatting to others at the stage doors (and always finding someone more geeky, more obsessed, more worrying than yourself)... all part of the fun. And all part of why such anedcotes can make us fall in love with the music all over again.

1 comment:

AnnaWaits said...

Music can be such a joy: and not just the music itself but our encounter with it

Absolutely. Thanks for sharing those fantastic memories!