Live Bed Show: A short tale of the Reading Festival 2002

In 2002 Pulp were in an odd place. The stratospheric success of 1994/5 had passed to the extent where their latest album at the time, We Love Life, barely made a ripple in sales or make that much on an impact at the time critically. Personally, I love the album because of it’s melancholic tone though it’s tempered with a curious optimism but creatively it seemed like an end, and it was. This was certainly the case as Britpop was truly dead even though Pulp were never like bands like Gene or Kula Shaker who leaped into the scene to cash in on a genre, but Pulp were dragged into the sucking whirlpool of the mid 1990’s British music scene and for a few exhilarating years so were people like me who went along for the ride.

By 2002 though music was moving on. American music from the likes of the White Stripes was starting to dominate, and Pulp were fading to the extent that at the Reading Festival that year they were bumped from a headlining slot from that year’s Hip Young Things, The Strokes. In retrospect it was just the usual cycle of music as one phase moves out, another comes in.

Pulp played their set and few guessed that this would be their last ever festival set (until the band reformed a decade later) as most of us were having a fantastic time but that Pulp set is something of beauty. Sadly little of it exists online but what does tells a story. Common People especially has something lugubrious about it, and although those of us in the audience were loving it, there’s a feeling that Jarvis and the band are going through the motions here. A few months later they released a Greatest Hits, and proceeded to vanish into the ether with all the band members doing their own things.

Enough wittering though, have a shufty of it for yourselves…

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