Jarvis Cocker presents JARV IS (4 stars)

Live review: Jarvis Cocker presents JARV IS, Leith Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu 22 Aug

credit: Gaelle Beri

Iconic frontman returns to the International Festival with his new project JARV IS

Best known as the frontman of reluctant Britpop stars Pulp, Jarvis Cocker has been releasing solo material and a variety of side projects since 2006. His latest, JARV IS, formed in late 2017, has primarily been a live experience ('because life is primarily a live experience'), gradually debuting new material at intimate venues and festivals. There are rumours that JARV IS is Cocker's best work to date, but aside from his diehard fans, likely the only thing that most of the audience has heard before tonight's sold out and highly-anticipated Edinburgh International Festival appearance is the band's first and only released single, 'Must I Evolve?'

Cocker takes the stage at Leith Theatre wearing his trademark brown suit and glasses, enigmatically hidden behind an excessive amount of smoke filling the stage. At 55 years old, he appears more self-assured and agile than ever, expertly channeling his hero David Bowie and easily keeping the crowd entranced throughout the night. He mainly focuses on the new JARV IS material, throwing in a few hits from his solo records and even one track from a lesser-known project, Relaxed Muscle, which gets an audible laugh for the first line, 'Mary, I just called to tell you that both of our children are on drugs'.

Fans happily sing along to the songs that they can, like 'Further Complications' and 'Running the World', a cheeky and beloved hidden track from his 2006 solo debut. 'Swanky Modes' is one of many standouts from the new numbers, which features Cocker singing 'Baby, how about you get on this?' while thrusting his hips across the stage, prompting many women in the audience to enthusiastically cheer for more. Between songs, he stops to read thought-provoking quotes by notable people born on this day and to share his musings about life and politics. 'Would it be ok if we sought political asylum here?' he asks, after expressing how pleased the band is to be performing in Scotland for the first time.

After throwing his sweat-drenched towel into the adoring crowd, he reminds us during the encore that 'Last millennium, I was in a group called Pulp' and launches into the band's 1994 deep cut 'His 'n' Hers'. Referencing a line from the song, he asks the crowd to share what they are frightened of and hands the microphone to a couple of fans standing in the front row. A man says that he is afraid of 'assholes running the country' and Cocker calmly reassures him that 'they are running the country, but they are not running you'. The crowd cheers, and for just a moment in time, Jarvis Cocker somehow makes us forget all of our fears.

Reviewed at Leith Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu 22 Aug.

Jarvis Cocker presents JARV IS…

  • 4 stars

JARV is an experiment JARV is a night to remember JARV is a live experience with no barriers JARV is ……& always will be. The inimitable Pulp frontman and solo artist remains a startlingly vital force in music, playing songs from his glittering career. He returns to the International Festival with his…

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