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The Cribs, O2 Institute, Birmingham

  • Published in Live

It is testament to a great album that almost 2000 people can gather in a city long untouched by its writers to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of its release. The room feels filled with sentimental sensations of nostalgia, as the three Jarman brothers and an unnoticed extra guitarist take to the stage prepared to break the walls down in memory of Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever.

God Damn and Sløtface warm up the mixed age crowd, the former an angry three-piece happy to rip off your face in the name of thick riffs and socialist politics, while the latter calm the waves before an inevitable storm, the Norwegian punk-pop quartet curating an early-noughties escape to enjoy. The wait is almost over.

Faithful to the album, the room erupts as The Cribs kick into the ever-explosive, ‘Our Bovine Public’, leading a rollercoasting handful of openers, and exploring side A with verve and vigour. The track is a slap round the face and a kick up the backside to initiate any encounter, the perfect broken handshake, and an introduction like no other, as a string of pop-rock hits cast the old and young in sing-along to Ryan Jarman’s (guitar and vocals) punked up spits.  

The trio are a unit of bundled aggression, operating as one, with the alternative and unpredictable charisma of Ryan rendering unmissable moments infinite, held down by the shots and strikes of brother Ross (drums), and storytelling shouts of Gary (bass and vocals).

A brief look around tells 2000 stories, every silent watchman, crowd-surfer, pint-thrower, and lyric-knower sharing their connection with the band, as the pretty tale of ‘I’ve Tried Everything’ is told, and ‘Be Safe’ opens all the boxes to the crowd’s chorus cries of “I know a place we can go where you’ll fall in/Love so hard that you wish you were 10.”

As the band squeeze all they have left of the album through a refreshing ‘Ancient History’, ‘Shoot The Poets’ summons a necessary break of acoustic artistry from Ryan, exposing more deeply the perhaps under-appreciated musicality at the band’s core.

Cutting off their track-listed chains, The Cribs then tear through a secondary set of smash-hits and rarities, occasionally challenging the encyclopaedic memories of hardcores I tip my non-existent hat to.

Pounding grunge number, ‘Come On, Be A No-One’, resets the clock for a drag back to the present, via the unchartered b-sided worlds of ‘Kind Words For The Broken Hearted’ and more, as the brothers time travel through their discography, still with as much energy as the sound they shape.

The band hereby exhibit the quintessential pop sensibility under their punk rock playing with recent single (in the context of the album commemorated), ‘Different Angle’ the stand-out track of the night, portraying the same twee simplicity as debut single, ‘Another Number’, the performance of which provided a late insight into the band’s incredible rise to becoming “Britain’s biggest cult band”, all the while keeping true to their DIY principles and pop eloquence.

An anthemic closing rout of ‘Pink Snow’ releases all that remains, unleashing furies and celebrating successes, before the loyal Midlands fanbase leave with a smile on every face.


The Cribs, Albert Hall, Manchester

  • Published in Live

Photo: Katie Clare

When The Cribs last played Manchester back in February, the show was as raucous and as sweaty affair as one might imagine; the ground floor of The Ritz becoming a heaving throng, sweat dripping and limbs flailing. What else you may have noticed if you were at that show, is how the then-new tracks, 'An Ivory Hand' or 'Pink Snow' for instance, despite fitting in with established tracks sonically, brought about a lull in the proceedings thanks to the crowd's unfamiliarity with the material.

Six months have passed since then however, and the material from From All My Sisters now sits snugly in The Cribs' canon, as if it had been there from the start. As a result of this, tonight's set is back-boned by material taken from their most recent cut, and, as if to prove to the band that their new material is just as loved as their old, an early rendition of 'Different Angle' receives the largest mosh-pit of the night so far.

Whilst last time the only set back came from the crowd's unfamiliarity with the tracks, tonight's comes early on in the form of questionable sound levels. Both throughout opener 'Ancient History' and following track 'I'm A Realist' singer/guitarist Ryan Jarman is plagued with guitar troubles; individual notes are barely discernible, though as is the case with the latter, the crowd participation more than fills in the gaps.

By fifth track 'Finally Free' any issues have been well and truly ironed out, and the energy exuded from the band is wholly transferred to the crowd, the writhing mass of fans beneath us a sight much like that from February; sweat-soaked and beer-fueled bodies throwing themselves stage-wards, in adoration.

Though the Albert Hall might not be the most intimate of venues the city has to offer (such intimacy is forgone in favour of its exquisite acoustics), The Cribs somehow manage to make the lofty venue feel more like one the Northern Quarter's spit 'n' sawdust pubs; even from the balcony the charm and charisma of the band is evident, and is what we can only assume is the secret to their longevity and lasting appeal.

With a veritable arsenal of tracks in their catalogue, obvious fan favourites are bound to get neglected, and tonight personal favourite 'Another Number' is notably missing from the set. With such an array at their disposal however, songs that were once reserved for an encore now take their place mid-set, and the final trio of tracks takes the shape of 'Mirror Kisses', 'Men's Needs' and new(ish) track 'Pink Snow'.

It's a bold move ending on a recent number, and the fact the response it receives is more subdued than the more established tracks it accompanies is understandable, given the rapturous response brought about by the aforementioned 'Mirror Kisses' and 'Men's Needs' respectively.

"Manchester has always treated us as one of its own," bassist Gary states "Tonight might be the best show we've ever played here." Far from being an aficionado of the band I've only managed to see them a handful of times and can't attest to any of those particularly early shows. There's an element of truth in what Gary says though, and while many of the band's contemporaries have fallen by the wayside, The Cribs torch continues to burn just as bright, if not brighter, than ever. 

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