David Belcher bops to the rinky-dink melodies of a band that glories

in the preciousness of popular music

MORTALLY offended, my companion adjusted his Ziggy Stardust-inspired

frock coat and bipperty-bopperty hat. ''Fashion-victim?'' he snarled.

''I am no fashion-victim . . . I am a fashion-assailant!'' All around

us, tacit support for this statement was provided by the clothing of

other bold archaelogists mining rich seams in pop's Plasticine era (c.


We had gathered on Sunday in Glasgow's Garage to salute Pulp. Some of

us, however, could also have been auditioning for a re-make of The

Sweeney. Young women wore A-line denim mini-skirts. One youth posed with

fey aplomb in red crushed-velvet tartan flares. Another affected a

window-pane check jacket which mimicked the size of pane found only in

the windows of department stores. We anxiously scanned the skies around

him for naval jets, lost these past 20 years, suddenly homing in on the

aircraft carrier-width of his lapels.

Then, in a burst of neon and dry ice, Pulp were among us! We simply

drank in guitarist Russell Senior's pale lemon safari-suit and moonstone

pendant. His lounge-lizard hair, dripping with ennui! His darting look

of supreme indifference! And when he took off his white-framed

sunglasses . . . glittery eye-shadow!

Comparatively restrained in tight white jeans and silvery lurex shirt,

Jarvis Cocker was nevertheless the cynosure of every gaze: teasing,

laconic, deadpan, the perennial south Yorkshire outsider. Red-eyed and

angular, the knowing Jarvis waggled his bottom and twirled his

microphone-lead in an abandoned yet parodic manner. A fluttering boa was

proffered from the stage-front throng. Jarvis accepted, inserted it

'twixt his lips, and showered his admirers with a mouthful of feathers.

We swooned.

A between-song utterer of elliptical and breathy confidences, Jarvis

glories in pop's ridiculousness. He celebrates his influences at the

same time as he sends them up, 'said influences ranging from the Velvet

Underground, Sparks, Johnny Rotten, Roxy, and Cockney Rebel to Alan

Bennett's monologues, TV's long-lost Junior Showtime, and Billy Liar by

Keith Waterhouse.

Most importantly, the transcendent Jarvis and his subversive band

employ these disparate influences to make something new. Acidic,

observant lyrics driven by rinky-dink pure-pop melodies . . . rev 'em up

and point 'em at me, by gum.

Stuff pointy-headed critics droning on about Jarvis being the

embodiment of the spirit of glam, blah blah . . . glam being a thematic

construct for the working-class impulse to seek grace under pressure,

blah blah . . . bedroom-bound adolescents from Sheffield council estates

appropriating the pop process to re-invent themselves and thus defeat

lives of stultifying ordinariness, blah blah blah. We boss groovers say

this to tortured theorists: bog off, swotty, and bop to Pulp's tunes.

And smile and think at Jarvis's words.

''Are there any perfect people in the audience this evening?'' Jarvis

asked disingenuously at one point. There were scattered cries in reply.

''Apart from us, of course. Actually, I don't think there's anything to

be gained by being perfect. Perfection's boring. Unless you have to make

an effort, things don't mean anything.''

Flawed as we are, we drew reassurance from Pulp's efforts on our

behalf. And how's about this for Cockeristic cock-eyed realism?

''I think that you have to hold on to the romantic view that things

are going to turn out OK in the end, that there's a well-structured

plot. Even when we know that there usually isn't. But we'd all like to

believe that sometimes there's the sunset, the violins, and the titles

coming down as you walk through.''

At this, there is empathic cheering. Jarvis goes on to advise against

anorexia as an aid to glamour. He also says that there's more to life

than the price of apples. Odd, yet perhaps not so odd. I look about me

and realise, weirdly, that most of the audience are clad in normal

apparel. Are Pulp closer to achieving mainstream acceptance than we

might have expected?

As Pulp's melodies swell, conventional couples can be observed

smooching. A bearded, balding middle-aged gent bobs his ponytail

appreciatively. And at the back of the hall a diminutive flame-haired

woman in a flowing black dress dances barefoot before falling

dramatically to the floor, there to mime the sinuous stretchings of a

cat. She hisses playfully and claws her boyfriend's leg.

I re-position my blond Afro and unfurl my companion's loon-pants,

comforted in the knowledge that there's nowt so queer as everyday Pulp


JAMJAR gigs are intended to be a resounding series of semi-acoustic

counterblasts to age-fascism and the distancing effect of stadium-rock.

Relaxed and intimate, the Jamjar experience begins at the Arches,

Glasgow, on Monday. What is Jamjar?

Jamjar is ''a bunch of people who can play with a basic line-up

instead of insisting on a 10-hour sound-check. It's complementary folk

doing songs they wouldn't normally do, in a stripped-down way, for an

audience who'd like for a nice change to sit and be entertained rather

than having to stand up all night at a sweaty gig or in a sweaty club.''

Jamjar programmer Ken McCluskey speaking, as he previews a venture

which will be drawing upon the extensive musical insights Ken has gained

as a member of the McCluskey Brothers. The McCluskeys will play at the

second Jamjar on May 9, assisted by Fjaere Nilssen and Peach County,

with the opening honours falling to Ayrshire's awesome Trashcan Sinatras

and Sugartown (a new collaboration between ex-Wild River Apple Gwen

Stewart and erstwhile Love and Money axe-man Douglas McIntyre), along

with John Rodgers and Fiona Shannon.

Over the following three May Mondays there'll be more music featuring

such performers as Govan-rooted Cockney Rory McLeod; the Buicks (led by

former Shakin' Pyramid Jim Creighton); Fiona Duncan and Fraser Speirs;

Nigel Clark and Friends; sometime-Long Ryder Sid Griffin; Superstar; and

the recently-renamed Radio Sweethearts.

''Mega-stadium-sized gigs at the SECC or at Parkhead are fine. They're

either an event or a nice day out, but they don't get you close to the

music,'' Ken continues, averring that Jamjar will.

Additionally, Jamjar gigs are open to all -- from all ages;

representatives of all musical tribes and sub-divisions -- either to get

up and sing a couple of songs, or to listen.

''I don't like the idea that such-and-such an age does this and

such-and-such an age does that. Just as Jamjar is meant to be a musical

mix-up, so we want a broad spectrum of ages, from 16 to 80.''

So get thee to Jamjar for a new-traditional singalong, young-timer and

old-stager alike.