The moment Pulp cemented their success performing ‘Common People’ at Glastonbury 1995
We’re missing the festival season in a big way so, to counterbalance our despair, we’re dipping into the Far Out vault to take a look back at one of Glastonbury Festival’s landmark moments when Pulp took to the stage to perform ‘Common People’.
Led by Jarvis Cocker, Pulp always provided much-needed relief from the boisterous machismo that was emanating out of Britpop’s bro-tastic bands like Blur, Supergrass and Oasis. At Glastonbury 1995 they proved they were every bit as vital.
When looking back at the Pyramid Stage of Glastonbury Festival you can naturally charter a course through some of music’s greatest artists and bands. One stop along the way is Sheffield’s own Pulp who, like Oasis, cemented their success with a stellar performance back in ’95 having made their debut the previous year.
Easily the crowning moment of that standout performance was their rendition of the Britpop anthem ‘Common People’.
As most artists who have had the pleasure of performing on the Pyramid Stage during Glastonbury will attest, the view of nearly 100,000 swarming around the stage and singing your songs is one that will be burned in one’s brain forever. Pulp’s ’95 performance is certainly still a landmark moment for Jarvis Cocker.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs back in 2005, host Sue Lawley asked the singer, “The great height of your success though Jarvis, was your great appearance in 1995 at Glastonbury wasn’t it? When you stood up and everybody knew the words to ‘Common People’?”
“I guess so, it’s quite scary to me that it is now ten years ago,” says the singer with a wry smile. “That was the event that made the success a concrete fact.” Lawley continues with her line of questioning, “The irony is you’d written it and you’d always been, if you like, a kind of outsider, what you discovered, in that moment, was you were everyman— what you felt meant something to all those people”
“Well, that is a strange thing,” replies Cocker. “But you’re a human being and even though everybody likes to think that they’re fantastically interesting and very unique the basic things that drive people are always the same things. So if you managed to kind of, no matter how specific the thing you’re writing about, if you manage to write about it properly, it will connect with people.”
‘Common People’ is a song that is destined to be played long after we’re all gone. Its connective message and the unstoppable groove it provides, means its not only a song of the moment but a timeless piece, offering swathes of the country a song that feels plucked from their very own lives. It was this connection that Cocker also talks about in his prelude to the track, a speech worth listening to.
There’s no better display of that song than when Pulp and Jarvis Cocker took to the stage at Glastonbury 1995 and belted out ‘Common People’ alongside 100,000 other common people.