About halfway through his set at Primavera this evening, Jarvis Cocker glances up into the sky for a moment like he’s recovering a message from the heavens. After a brief pause, he puts the mic close to his lips and mutters in his unmistakable Sheffield drone – “We’re all children of the echo, born somewhere between kings cross and Morden.”
Cocker has always been nothing if not enigmatic. When in Pulp, he stood out from the rest of the pack by wrapping confessional and often uncomfortably candid sexual imagery and social commentary in a disarming charming and authentically working-class persona. With new act JARV-IS, he’s taking the same subversive approach but has replaced the more mundane subject matter with musings on the nature of existences, the cosmos and everything else really.
Tonight is Jarvis at his most Jarvis-y. Dressed in his distinctive crinkled corduroy suit and heavy-rimmed glasses, he barrels through a set of new and old songs that are both gleefully tuneful and weirdly left-field. New single ‘Must I Evolve’ is a stream-of-consciousness deliberation on the idea of personal, physical and metaphysical change with brief stop offs to talk about badgers and hot-pants. Another song seems to be a ten-minute thesis on the joys of house music rendered in glorious plonky synths and eerily violins. As each song speeds by, each is a riot of kitschy show-tune pop and random mystical observations, each weirder than the next.