Show Review: Jarvis Cocker at The Fillmore, 7/28/09

by Marie Carney on July 29, 2009

The sun shines for Jarvis Cocker and his magical air guitar

The sun shines for Jarvis Cocker and his magical air guitar

Jarvis Cocker struts on stage like the king of brit pop he is.  Unlike most musicians/celebrities he is even larger in life than in pictures.  His charisma is almost earth shattering and after about 20 years of performing he really knows how to work the crowd.  His speeches between songs are hilarious and insightful.  He makes it feel really personal, like he’s just talking to you whilst he is running around the stage posing and using the microphone in wonderfully phallic ways.  Before the song “Leftovers” he proclaims “The Iguanodon is not aroused” as he swings the microphone limply.  This was just the beginning of an evening full of quotes and great memories.

If you are a follower of this blog you may have read my less than glowing review of Jarvis Cocker’s most recent album Further Complications.  In fact, I seriously considered not going to the show until Vanessa said “but it’s Jarvis!” and I realized that I should go.  It really doesn’t matter what kind of music Jarvis Cocker plays he is such a consummate performer.  I imagine he could stand on stage reading a crappy historical romance novel and I would be riveted to the spot (actually, that sounds kind of awesome, Jarvis’ management, please take note!).  But live the music is not awful.  After all, hard rock music really is better suited for the energy of a crowd.  Even the virtual instrumental “Pilchard” gained new life live and even became my favourite number of the evening (though this could be due to the fact that beforehand Jarvis said:  Pretend you’re at a birthday party, the kind you would have when you’re 6.  And I’ll be the Dad no one likes and have you follow along to all my moves.  Ready?)

There were really only two low points to the evening.  One was the opening band Wooden Shjips.  I couldn’t describe what their music was other than awful.  They had the bass turned up way too high, especially since the bass lines were overly simplistic and out of place.  They also did not have a look or any sort of showmanship.  I took to texting my friends during their set to try to stay awake.  In those texts I think I summed it all up with “They’re old.  And not in a sexy Jarvis way.”  The other low point was the last song of the set where Jarvis brought Wooden Shjips back on stage for a ridiculously long jam of “In My Eyes.”  It was quite sad really since the song itself is charming, as was Jarvis’ intro, but Jarvis left the stage a good five minutes before the bands finished jamming on the song.  It was not a good close to the evening.

There were many more highlights to evening than two, though most of them had to do with Jarvis himself instead of the music.  He started off the evening concerned about our blood sugar level and handed out pieces from two large chocolate bars insisting that we all share.  He continued the sharing theme every time he had a drink by taking a big swig then handing the rest out to an audience member saying “I’m watching to make sure you share that!”  But the really shining moment was during the encore when a couple next to me handed Jarvis an invitation to their wedding.  He read it out loud then asked them incredulously “so you want me to sing at your wedding!?!”  She said yes so we got an impromptu cover of “Can’t Take my Eyes Off of You.”  By the looks on the happy couple’s faces I’m sure that’s their song now, and it certainly made a night to remember for everyone.

Here is the setlist:

Further Complications
Big Julie
I Never Said I Was Deep
Fat Children
Black Magic

Hold Still
Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You (I Love You Baby)
Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time
In My Eyes (Discosong)

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Gordon Elgart July 29, 2009 at 8:56 pm

I was all set to do my part as editor and fix the name of the opening band, but then I found out it’s NOT a typo! They actually spell it like that. Just that fact alone is enough for me to dislike them. Looks like the music won’t save them.


Rax July 29, 2009 at 10:10 pm

Maybe you should fix the misspelling in: “Pretend your at a birthday party” instead of worrying about the names of bands you don’t get.


Gordon Elgart July 29, 2009 at 10:23 pm

I’ve decided I have time to do both. Thanks for helping out!


Marie Carney July 29, 2009 at 10:26 pm

I’m sorry two have upset you with my typo. Their so hard to spot sometimes!


Tony July 30, 2009 at 8:49 am

Thanks for the review. After the disappointment of the last CD (and the 70 mile drive), I did sell my tickets and not attend the show. Your review, while positive, really makes me think I made the right decision. A very short setlist by the way.



bean July 30, 2009 at 10:12 pm

i’m one half of the celebrated couple you mentioned. we were completely surprised and appreciative of what Jarvis did with our invitation. we had expected to merely hand it to him at some point during the set. i’ve always loved that song, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You,” though i have a hard time not thinking about Deer Hunter (the movie not the band) whenever i hear it. it definitely means a lot more to me now, though we may have already chosen “Ring the Bells” by the Kinks as our first dance.

Here’s a link to a video of the wedding announcement & song on my friend Sabrina’s blog:

lastly, i personally like Wooden Shjips though i do believe they were quite poorly matched as an opener for Jarvis (and i wasn’t a fan of the “jam” at the end either).


Vi July 30, 2009 at 10:36 pm

So does it say something about my age to say that “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” always reminds me of 10 Things I Hate About You? Probably. And you’d be right.


Marie Carney July 30, 2009 at 10:39 pm

That’s awesome. Thanks for posting the link to the video, it was such a fun moment, and all thanks to you!

And I guess, since I seem to be upsetting people, I should qualify my half-arsed Wooden Shjips review: I really really really hate a) psychedelic music and b) long jams (playing or watching/listening)
So it is impossible for me to remain unbiased on that front. The best review they could have gotten from me was “they were good musicians” but I don’t even think that. I would substitute the word “good” with “passable.” I don’t think they listened to each other enough to be really good.


Seph August 2, 2009 at 3:46 am

Sigh, I wasn’t able to catch Jarvis again. I have to fly back home. If I knew he would be performing in that area, I would’ve stayed a few days more. I first saw him last year but it was in a festival (Pitchfork) and he wasn’t the headliner. The moment I saw him perform Fat Children with those crazy Daddy dance moves, I was hooked.
I’m also not into his second solo Further Comp.. But seeing several live footages of his tracks both in SF and LA, including the one he performed in Jimmy Fallon, made me do a second listen to that album. I wonder now, if how much part of my interest in Jarvis is his actual music or am I just engaged by his charismatic personality?


Marie Carney August 3, 2009 at 3:25 pm

I have the same dilemma. I’m pretty sure it’s his personality for me. At least with the new album it is!


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