April 21st, 2012, 12:53 pm · · posted by GUEST
Watching Pulp on the main stage last night (and especially the previous evening at the Fox Pomona) was almost like being in college again. Lanky, bespectacled leader Jarvis Cocker has the air of a professor. His lyrics could easily be sociology lecture topics (human sexuality, voyeurism). Still spry as ever and frequently all over the stage, the singer even provided “this day in history” info.
During the 1990s, the sophisticated, critically acclaimed band never managed to get the attention or album sales that fellow Britpop acts such as Blur and especially Oasis (whose Noel Gallagher performs today) enjoyed here in America. But after a tremendous second set at Coachella, I’m sure a lot of people will suddenly be curious about them.
Out in the field past the soundboard, I saw a group of young giddy French guys singing along to the Pulp songs at the top of their lungs. Opening with a buoyant “Do You Remember the First Time?,” the set list was tweaked slightly from Coachella #1. There were problems with the screens on each side of the stage; only one ended up being utilized. Still, all the visual effects and green lasers during “Sorted For E’s and Wizz,” were dazzling.
Like so many other acts throughout the day, Cocker mentioned the drug reference date of 4/20. “Disco 2000″ was high energy and during the haunting orchestration of “I Spy,” the vocalist ventured into the crowd and used a mini camera to show close-ups of his face. Other standouts included the lurching seediness of “This is Hardcore,” (capped with heavy breathing) and closer “Common People,” where onetime Pulp member Antony Genn, now of The Hours, turned up to guest. Let’s hope the rumors of a new studio album come to fruition.
Earlier, after spending much of Friday afternoon in the various tents (where the sound mixes were often atrocious), I got my first glimpse of Coachella stage action with James. The veteran U.K. band makes stirring alt-pop music that fit its timeslot and location perfectly.
I’m willing to bet trumpeter/backing vocalist Andy Diagram was the only male performer wearing a dress. Lead singer Tim Booth said they made a point to change their set list from last week, which was partially true.
Opening with a frantic “White Boy,” they also did the mesmerizing “Out to Get You,” where Larry Gott’s slide work on a resonator guitar wafted over the crowd, Mark Hunter played melodica and Saul Davies fiddled with abandon. Booth immersed himself into the music, shook his body all around and used his trademark megaphone a couple times. Finally, James’ U.S. hit “Laid” was given a welcome new spacey keyboard intro by Hunter and mariachi horn flourishes from Diagram.
Back out in the tents, Dawes provided one of the day’s other highlights. The Goldsmith Brothers’ (Taylor on lead vocal/guitar and Griffin on drums/vocals, along with keyboardist Tay Strathairn,) heavenly harmonies and easygoing classic rock style often recalls the ’70s heyday of CSN as well as The Band (which Dawes covered here; Taylor even added his pipes to Robbie Robertson’s latest, “How to Become Clairvoyant”).
Launching with the Griffin-sung “How Far I’ve Come,” the packed crowd loved every minute of it. An organ-sweetened “Time Spent in Los Angeles,” boasted a rustic charm. At one point, Taylor played electric guitar like a man possessed, sliding across the stage as he soloed. “A Little Bit of Everything,” where Taylor sings about different people in frustrating points of their lives, was truly poignant. All told, Dawes was completely captivating.
I didn’t want to tear myself away from the Black Keys on the Coachella Stage, who sounded much better than their previous appearance here (maybe it was the soulful vocals on selections from last year’s “El Camino”).
Venturing out to the tents, M83 drew an overflow capacity crowd and could have easily played on one of the main stages.
By George A. Paul for The Orange County Register.
For more Coachella coverage all weekend go to ocregister.com/coachella.