21st Century Appearances: 2011 Main Stage Co-headliner, 2002 Main Stage Co-headliner, 2000 Main Stage Headliner
The Defining Reading Moment: Signing off in 2002, giving way to the bright new things lead by The Strokes, but leaving everyone with an unforgettable finale, complete with two encores (and they weren’t even headlining).
Despite having their big moment at Glastonbury in 1995, as time wore on Pulp became not only a Reading band, but Reading’s band. The twilight of their career played out at our favourite festival, as Pulp summoned their might sense of drama, humour and impeccable timing to go out with one glorious and glitzy bang.
By the year 2000 a Pulp headline set had become almost matter of fact. You knew it was going to brilliant, you knew Jarvis would lead the crowd with his witticism and disarming homely tales, but no matter how prepared you may have been, Pulp still had the power to catch you off guard and take your breath away. By 2002, Pulp’s time had come and gone, they were breaking new barriers as epic songwriters with “Sunrise” and “This Is Hardcore” dropping jaws up and down the country, but Brit Pop was on it’s way out. The Strokes were here, they were headlining, and it was time for Jarvis and company to bow out.
They did it in style of course, pulling off one of the undisputed greatest Reading sets. Masterfully crafted, the performance went from strength to strength. Dispensing with “Common People” at the start as if to say “this isn’t one for the neutrals”, they crafted a poignant masterwork breezing through “Something Changed” and “F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E” en route to the first big crescendo: the staggering “This Is Hardcore”. The band remerged for a heartbreaking reading of “Sunrise”, before once again returning to stage to end where they began, with “Babies” and “Do You Remember The First Time?”
In 2011 Pulp returned, and once again, playing not so much second fiddle to The Strokes instead rekindling a decade old relationship. Naturally enough, Pulp blew everyone’s socks off, as the two heroes of a decade ago, reimagined an epic one-two-punch; one all humour, heartbreak and showmanship, the other stoicism and drunken rock’n’roll. It was meant to be. The good old days were back, if only for one night. David Hayter