The Cribs rock the suburbs. At first impression, the crowd looks a mix. Long-haul fans mingling with those just-curious, but both chancing for a giddy kick of excitement. Actually, a lot of them know the words.
This outfit’s notoriety runs with indie. Brothers Jarman have worked with every cult artist under the sun. Orange Juice’s Edwyn Collins, Franz Ferdinand’s Alex K and The Smiths’ Johnny Marr to list a few. But while their music has, at times, made forays into the mainstream they’ve always remained to their own internal logic.
When you’re a rock ‘n’ roll lifer fortunes wax and wane. But whether it’s for ten or ten thousand a good band keeps socking it There’ll always a be a bunch of people in the back of the world’s beer-soaked havens digging it.
So here they are, achin’ it out onstage. Still plenty of kick to it. The Men’s Needs Women’s Needs Whatever classics draw the most cheers but this band’s passion lays with the present. They play tracks from latest Steve Albini produced LP 24-7 Rock Star Shit with energy and bludgeon.
They strip down for a series of acoustic-led numbers spearheaded by ‘Shoot The Poets’. “But it's not what I've heard you know it/Cut your losses/Shoot the poets.” ‘Poets’ could be mistaken for Ray Davies. It’s that same strain of cult British songwriting, tuneful yet erratic. Let yourself into its headspace and you can touch the genius.
Naturally, it’s followed by the set’s heaviest. The Cribs bash out the remainder of the evening’s proceedings in rock show mode. ‘Be Safe’ rumbles out. Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo isn’t here in person, but a projection does the job of filling in for his spoken word. They’re cutting into it live better than the studio version. Maybe there’s something claustrophobic the recording doesn’t quite grab.
‘Pink Snow’ ends the closing run of The Hits. It arrives last of all with a towering guitar climbs and gnawing angst. Gary puts it across in his Beat Happening baritone.
This outfit might not be rock’s immortals but they’re living its combustible dream. Guitars and an attitude may not have changed the world in the end, whether music really can the verdict’s out. But for a moment this group of misfits bring its giddy thrill back into the worlds of those present.
Review by Riley Fitzgerald