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Live / stage review

JARV IS… at the Octagon

Hannibal Lecture brings a real horror-show to the Octagon.

12 November 2021 at

You imagine there must have been a time, when Jarvis Cocker was treading the boards with Pulp every few weeks in the eighties, that a gig at the University of Sheffield had all the allure of a trip to Morrisons.

But exactly 50 years since his last official visit in 1994, there’s a real trepidation for this last date on the JARV IS... tour. It’s a night full of ghosts, chiaroscuro drama, keyboards that will. not. work... And I’ve completely let the folk horror theme unbalance my review.

Between songs there’s the same easy charm of the award-winning 6 Music broadcaster and national treasure – his presence so magnetic the lower refectory’s cutlery rattles in its drawers.

But as the shambling corpse of what was Jarvis Branson Cocker pins itself to the 20-foot high ring that dominates the stage like a gigantic embroidery hoop, the realisation dawns that something has indeed changed.

From the Blood on Satan’s Claw-like “Missing something good…” chant of ‘Am I Missing Something?’ to ‘Sometimes I Am Pharaoh’, which sees him creeping round the stage like a possessed puppet, the best thing about this gig is how it turns the kindly pop uncle into a kind of existential performance art. I mean, I have no idea what it’s about but at one point, as a backlit Jarvis sings “Sometimes I’m made of chocolate,” I swear he looks like one of the melting Nazis from Raiders of the Lost Ark and it’s like your copy of ‘Do You Remember the First Time?’ is dripping blood.

“You play a song and it becomes something you can’t imagine...” he tells us. JARV IS..., smelted in the live furnace of the Octagon, sees the great man take his final form.

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