View more photos in the “Jarvis Cocker @ The Wiltern” slideshow.
On the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, nearly 1,000 kilometers from the North Pole, a group of scientists created a “Doomsday seedbank” that could replenish the world's crops in the event of a nuclear catastrophe. It is in this Doomsday seedbank, amid the pumpkin seeds and peach pits, that scientists should place the frozen body of Brit rocker, Jarvis Cocker.
The spastic former Pulp frontman is truly a national treasure worthy of surviving Armageddon. Cocker's performance last night at the Wiltern proved that the 45-year-old has lost nothing since the Pulp days. Although Pulp froze its own activity in the early 2000's, Cocker kept his peripatetic creativity flowing, releasing two solo albums, and curating the phenomenal Meltdown Festival in 2007.
Following a lukewarm performance of Brazillian/American band Little Joy (The Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti's rock outfit), Cocker wandered on stage wearing a tight suit wrapped around his wirey frame. Busting through rockers from his latest album, Further Complications, Cocker commanded the stage with mic spins, James Brown-styled stage falls, and arms swinging like a marionette controlled by an unknown master.
Although the audience seemed unfamiliar with Cocker's material (according to an unscientific survey taken near the bacon-wrapped hotdog cart, most audience members just wanted Pulp songs. He didn't play any.), but they head-nodded anyway to Cocker's slower Stooges-like jam, “Angela,” and the saxed-up swinger “Homewrecker. ” In the astute words of a woman near the post show-hotdog haven, “He could be playing anything, but it's always what you wanted to hear.”
The crowd became animated between songs, as Cocker guessed audience members' names and discussed his own feelings about Los Angeles history, and prehistory. “Did you know that the La Brea Tar Pits have an almost complete skeleton of a wooly mammoth?” Cocker muttered, “and this next song deals with prehistory and its connection to sexual desire.” With out missing a beat, Cocker kicked out “Leftovers,” a song about meeting women at the museum of paleontology.
Cocker's non-sequitor quips, sputtered like a spaceman fallen to earth, were the gems of the night. “If I could refrigerate this moment, I would,” he said. Jarvis, if only we could refrigerate you.