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Concert Review by Nick Morgan
Troxy, Limehouse, London, June 17th 2009
Jarvis Cocker
Jarvis Cocker has released a new album, which in the spirit of the times has turned its back on the melodic (although not the melancholic), and rejected sophistication and complexity in favour of a stripped-down rock and roll feel, perhaps partly inspired by recording engineer Steve Albini.
This, you may recall, was as predicted when he previewed songs from the new album at the end of last year at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. The reception for Further Complications has been mixed, some rejecting its rawness as a backward step, others embracing it. Not a few have suggested that the music, like the album’s title, reflects a difficult time in Cocker’s personal affairs, if not a mid-life crisis for the 46-year-old.
On this short UK tour to promote the album, Cocker has turned away from the West and brought us to Troxy, the rather unlikely venue (and former theatre of dreams) in the East End’s Limehouse, once in the heart of the capital’s docklands, and the place where cholera first struck in London in 1832, as Cocker reminds us. This last fact was about the only thing all evening that diverted the two sturdy security guards in front of us from their task of managing access to the mosh, and keeping the path to the raised area of the ground floor clear. In fact, the security are everywhere; it’s a hugely over-staffed venue, which, nice though the carpeted floors are, could do with investing a bit more in some basic facilities (the woefully inadequate three urinals guarantee lengthy queues and ill-humour all evening).     Jarvis Cocker
But the sound is pretty good, or certainly good enough for Jarvis’s new stuff, driven by the two guitarists Tim McColl and Martin Craft. The set begins in uncompromising fashion with ‘Angela’, followed by the ‘spare post-industrial rock’ (as my notebook says) of ‘Further complications’, and doesn’t look back.
Cocker joins the stage brandishing a cane, then jumps, kicks, postures and philosophises when he’s not bellowing out his lyrics, which despite the stripped-back sound retain his trademark wit, sophistry and slyness, and not a tad of explicit sexuality (‘Fuckingsong’). At its best the set is glorious; think eighty-five per cent Jarvis Cocker, ten per cent Psychedelic Furs (particularly when the saxophone is introduced) and five per cent rocking Roxy Music and you might get an idea. The set moved between the new album and some of the highlights from his first eponymous album, ‘Big Julie’, ‘Black magic’, and in the encore ‘Fat kids’. And for the most part it’s all very good stuff, though ‘You’re in my eyes’, an inexplicably self-indulgent disco pastiche, is as weak live as it is on the album. Still it’s at least an eight out of ten gig, which is good enough for me. - Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate) Jarvis Cocker
Listen: Jarvis Cocker on MySpace

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