Jarvis – Copywrite Alex Cropper I-1
Jarvis – Copywrite Alex Cropper I-1

JARV IS…: Invisible Wind Factory, Liverpool

JARV IS… comes to those who wait, including Alan Parry, at the Invisible Wind Factory.

By Alan Parry
Tue 09 November, 2021

Good things come to those who wait, or so the old adage goes.

As Jarvis Cocker and band appeared through the synthetic smoke, striking the pose of perhaps the most recognisable silhouette in popular culture (since Jane Austen or Bruce Forsyth anyway), I felt a thrill of anticipation that only live music performance can engender in me.

I had waited a long time for this. Strike that. We had all waited a long time for this. Obviously, COVID-19 has not gone for good, but we are, collectively, learning to live in its echo. Cocker was fully aware of this, and embraced the magnitude of this renewed human connection throughout.

As the band belted out Pulp album track, She’s A Lady, Cocker strutted about the stage, as if Mick Jagger, now in a history teaching skin, complete with customary angular dance shapes appearing like tourettisms. There are two types of folks I reckon: those who don’t get Cocker; and the rest of us who adore his every move.

The music could be dubbed dance, it could even be indietronica. Whatever the label, it’s certainly influenced by Chicago House and Disco (Frankie Knuckles even gets a mention within the lyrics of Must I Evolve?).

It was bonfire night, and in the absence of indoor fireworks, Cocker threw black grapes from his blazer pockets, and handfuls of sweets into the crowd. They lapped it all up. I can’t think of anybody else who’d get away with that on stage, such is the man’s individuality. He was keen to offer firework safety advice too, and warned those munching on the freebie chocolates they’d get ‘as fat as bloody pigs’.

From my position, upstairs on the balcony, I was able to watch the whole audience, and trust me when I tell you, there was barely a mobile phone in sight. Hardly anybody snapping photos, or recording video. Now, it’s a long time since I was at a live gig, but it’s much longer since I have seen an audience so totally transfixed. Even the untitled Slow Jam, or Bad Friday (a final decision on the song name has not been made yet, and it was only the fourth time they have played it for an audience) was taken in. I have been to enough gigs to know that it’s often the new material that turns an audience off, but tonight this Liverpool crowd wanted to soak everything up.

On the Liverpool crowd, I think it’s important to mention how Cocker had done the prep work for the evening’s soundbites between the songs. He’d visited the childhood homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney; he reminisced his first live gig in Liverpool, (August 1987 at Sefton Park and he shared the bill with The Goat People and Eat My Dog); and he recalled his last visit to the Invisible Wind Factory in 2017, the night KLF launched their comeback by arriving in town in an Ice Cream Van. It was the night of that KLF gig that Cocker decided he was going to play IWF, and he’s been looking to make it happen ever since. Thank God they did!

JARV IS… are a relatively new band, and so their back catalogue is not vast, but the setlist included firm fan favourites and was peppered with tracks from Cocker’s solo, post-Pulp years too.

Am I Missing Something? Big Julie, and Swanky Modes, would fit neatly into his oeuvre from any given time period. However, the night’s most raucous cheer must have been for Cunts Are Still Running the World. It’s a blinding track, and spurred cries from the crowd of ‘Fuck the Tories!’ and even an impromptu rendition of “Maggie’s in the mud (Na na na na na na na)” to the tune of KC & the Sunshine Band’s Give It Up. Only in Liverpool, eh? Scousers, ya gotta love ‘em!

The band ended the show proper with Must I Evolve? It’s probably my least favourite song of Cocker’s more recent output, and I was very happy to see the band return for the industry standard encore.

The penultimate number was Further Complications, and Jarvis, who is now 58, moved like a man at least half his age. He was clearly having a blast and revelling in the night. They finished with a cover Arline from The French Dispatch (the new Wes Anderson movie). The track, which features on the new album Chansons d’Ennui had people ballroom dancing at the bar. It was the perfect end to the evening. I have probably seen better bands. I have definitely seen bigger and bolder shows. But, after the last two years of being shut away, I needed this. More, Liverpool needed this. Thank you, JARV IS…!

Photo Gallery by Vicky Pea and Alexander Cropper