Skip to main content

Jarvis Cocker

Picture House, Edinburgh
3 stars
Jarvis Cocker knows the pop game well enough to understand the power of
subverting a rock and roll cliché. Bounding onstage in charity shop threads and brand new beard, he mimes a flamboyant greeting as the words, ‘Good evening, Edinburgh’ are projected behind him. Someone chucks a sombrero onstage, which Cocker gamely sports, looking like an off duty geography teacher just back from a 1970s package tour. In-between songs, he talks us through a slideshow of Edinburgh, from the Tattoo (“the only time I’ve wanted to commit a terrorist atrocity,” he says), to The Picture
House’s former guise as the Caley Palais. Cocker follows his ninety minute set of Pulp-free wares by DJ-ing old school hip hop.

Such waggishly charming diversions make for a great show, and also point up what an interesting stage Cocker’s solo career is at just now. Because, while the songs lifted from his debut album and the new ones premiered here retain a deadpan kitchen-sink wit of old, they’re arranged in such an ordinary fashion as to sound plodding. Much of this is down to an anonymous band which, even with ex Pulp bassist Steve Mackey in the ranks, has little personality for Cocker to rub up against. Morrissey had a similar problem in the early days of his post Smiths career, and it’s interesting to note how that singer has recently come to terms with his back catalogue.

Give Cocker a couple of years and this may happen to him too. In the meantime, we should all be grateful for Running The World, the cheekiest, most simplistic four-lettered political anthem of the moment. For Cocker, it’s a triumph.

The Herald, December 1st 2008



Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…