If you will join me in a journey to Manchester Academy, traversing through the seas of skinny tie clad, thick rimmed spectacle wearers (The place is literally a giant Specsavers sponsor) , inch past the vintage charity shop blazers, and gaze upon the slideshow up ahead of relics of Rough Trade past whilst waiting for..*Chokes* Jarvis Cocker…then you will have reached a place I like to call Indie Mecca. A place so cherished by the Britpop listeners of Yesteryear, to the teenybopper Topshop generation of Y2K that you will find your hair literally standing on end…(providing you haven’t backcombed it already.)

As Rough Trade hits the big 30, it is up to a man quite happily past the big 30 in his own years - the Indie Overlord of all things tweed – to entertain the rowdy youths with something just a little bit spectacular.

It is not just Jarvis’ night despite all this, as we are treated to delightful support from Jeffrey Lewis from NYC. Although I personally had not heard of him before, he stems from the Moldy Peaches style era of music –what with his honest, yet provocative lyrics and past work with Kimya Dawson. Now of course, to be thrust in front of hundreds of mini-Jarvis’ (Should that be Jarvi?) and the accumulation of Pulp repertoire dotted all throughout the venue, any support act would be quaking in their boots (change any mention of metaphorical footwear to ‘Converse’ as necessary).

Unlike Jarvis, Mr Lewis is armed with an animated presentation portraying the life and standing of Rough Trade. After all this is why were all here in the long run. Congregating to Jesus Cocker (Well he does have the same initials…) is evidence enough that half of us are harbouring a considerable amount of records commissioned by the heavies at Rough Trade – without which we’d all be listening to Girls Aloud in our pink bedrooms with hair that didn’t defy the laws of gravity.

As Jeffrey teaches us, acts such as the Fall were formed to fit the beacon of Rough Trade, and then in later years it was the doings of the Strokes followed by our British equivalent punk minstrels the Libertines that would help shape the company to be an inspiring one to new and actually innovative music. So no matter how marketing works in this day and age to promote straw hat clad warblers such as the Kooks as being ‘indie’ – it is the Rough Trade cronies that fully know the meaning of the word, and the creativity that lives alongside it.

But moving back to Jeffrey, who by this point has gained esteem from the parts of the crowd still wearing Jarvis tinted glasses, teaching us the ins and outs of the rock and roll industry via the medium of pretty little crayon drawings. He has a very admiral and humorous lyrical prowess which he strings together with a trusty acoustic guitar and meekly spoken vocals. Nonetheless, the meagreness of the performance is what gives Jeffrey his geeky but endearing charisma and the ability to get the attention of an antsy audience such as this. The dialogue within this audience changes from "Hurry up ! When is Jarvis coming on ?" to "This bloke's actually not making me want to gouge my eyes out!", to "He’s pretty good actually".

It’s amazing what a slight bit of knowledge of Flash animation and an acoustic guitar can achieve, but Jeffrey is a worthy counterpart – and a valuable contribution to Indie Mecca as far as the audience is concerned. With such songs like ‘The Last Time I Did Acid I Went Insane’ (“The second rule of LSD/The rooftop is not a good place to be”) the audience and him were bound to get along.

After Jeffrey, it is straight on to the man you may remember I vaguely mentioned earlier on. Tonight he will be playing the role of ‘Dirty Lecturer’ (But not in an entirely bad way) – complete with Powerpoint presentation greeting us, and also a beard, Jarvis Cocker.

Now I feel it is vital to mention the beard. Although not perhaps entirely relevant, it is perhaps the most staple and iconic piece of facial hair since Brandon Flowers and "that" moustache. Or that time when Kings of Leon shaved all their beards off. It works both ways. Nonetheless, it is here with us (Which Jarvis is keen to touch upon, brushing his bristles up against the microphone for our enjoyment) , and emphasises the whole ‘Geography teacher’ ensemble Mr Cocker has been rocking since the early 90s. Also, he has brought a stick on stage with him. "It’s great having a stick" he proclaims. "I will hit you with it if you are very good." Never has a ‘Sleazy lecture’ routine been this dirty.

Now on to the music. The ‘Disco 2000’ fans are naturally sorely disappointed – as we are on a strict Pulp diet as is quite regular with Jarvis’ gigs now, but it is quite naïve to enter a gig and not focus on the new material that we get to hear before anyone else! (Providing you’ve not managed to hack it all off Limewire second hand) Speaking of which – the new material is a lot heavier than Jarvis’ first solo effort. A lot of the early 'This is Hardcore' influences are peppered in such songs like ‘Apparently’ and ‘Complications’. Many of which are worthy of a good ol’ jump on the amps and some colossal acrobatics from the thinnest man in the world.

Of course many of his first solo album tracks make an appearance – a particularly boisterous version of 'Black Magic' completely enraptures, and there is also a deliverance of a vocally perfect 'I Will Kill Again'. As the new songs hype us up, the old songs bring us down to earth again – the contrast with the new material is quite encouraging and more upbeat. 'Tonite' in particular would be a lighter swaying extravaganza in any normal case, (if we were the Wembley Stadium types that is) alongside a backdrop of an evening skyline of Manchester to amuse us – ‘us’ being the starry eyed ‘students’ to this guitar-lined lecture.

This could quite possibly be the only lecture however to have an encore feverishly requested by our Jarvis chants.“We’re not leaving without our ‘----- are Running the World’ rendition, Sir! Even if it does result in ‘the stick’…” Because this is an audience in dire need of yelling "Shit Floats’ in a lecture. Without getting thrown off the course. And of course, as good students we get that fiery first single which opened up Jarvis’ solo career in the first place– with a band as raring to improvise music to Jarvis tieing his shoelaces as they are about the new album’s material. Pulp who? No. It hurts to even joke about that sort of thing.

So that in a nutshell is Indie Mecca. Long sweaty hair from all angles, Jarvis Cocker, Rough Trade cartoons, and beige. Lots and lots of beige. Let this be a lesson to you. And don’t forget to ask for the lecturer's autograph after the show.









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