The Cribs have come a long way.
A lot longer than from Wakefield to Manchester!
Itâs a good old-fashioned ruckus in here, a sold out Manchester Apollo with 3500 souls singing every word and the biggest mosh pit Iâve seen in the building creating a wave of euphoria. Itâs one of those gigs where the crowd does the singing, drowning out the band with their voices echoing around the ancient venue mixing with the sweat and the ghosts of history echoing with the high decibel
The Wakefield trinity of the holy trio are currently augmented by David Jones from Manchesterâs own Nine Black Alps on guitar replacing the recently departed Johnny Marr. It says a lot about The Cribs that they stand alone now and are not overshadowed by the ex Smith and are now kicking up a real shit storm of their own with their youthful rush and vigor of timeless rock n roll, combined with lo fi noise and classic British guitar action they come armed with great choruses which are becoming part of the pop parlance.
Up front Ryan Jarman cuts the most rock n roll shapes, with his jacket off, sawn off t shirt and Ramona hair cut, he is hanging over his guitar like a prime time Johnny Ramone- sharing the vocals with his twin brother Gary who throws his bass around like the young Chris Nosovelic bringing back memories, for me, of seeing Nirvana as a four piece way back in Maxwellâs Hoboken when the band played to nine people and destroyed their gear. Gary epitomizes the bandâs fusion of lo fi American punk and Britpop, part of the underground- he helped organize the first Ladyfest in the UK and is hooked into the tightly meshed underground.
Without any bullshit, any hype, any playing to the hipsters, the fashionistas and the taste makers, the Cribs have made their own path with a music that somehow combines the stubborn independence of the American lo fi noiseniks with the classic communal melodies of the classic British lineage that runs from the Beatles through the Jam, the Smiths, Manchester and Britpop.
They make this seem to easy tonight and the band, who are at the top of their game are breaking out after five albums ad into a mainstream that desperately needs their honesty, passion and no holds barred rock n roll.
Here they are selling out Manchester Apollo, three brothers in a tight knit band and a fistful of great songs, songs that have the yearning and euphoria that is so much part of great British rock n roll. That sense of optimism despite the rain and the broken down towns.
The hipsters do all the talking whilst the bands like the Cribs do all the walking and itâs paid off. The media luvvies love to say that rock n roll is dead as an artform but the love in this room is so intense that yet again, like at last weeks Reverend And the Makers gig, you feel that euphoria that surrounded the Stone Roses. Bands like these really mean something to people; they are totally tied into the fabric of contemporary culture that you can feel the heat.
Itâs the way that they have conducted themselves and the way that they have got to this level that has ingrained them deeply into the psyche of their fans. There is no rock star bullshit here, no hype, no empty promises- just hard graft and great songs, no flash- just their own innate and tightly knit genius.
When they first appeared on the scene in 2002 they came out of the scraps of the Leeds underground- getting released on a riot grrl, garage punk label because they had the guitar rush that fitted. They also wrote these anthemic songs with snappy smart lyrics that key label, Wichita understood as pop songs and were proved right when they relased their debut album that started of a run of ever more successful releases that hit the top ten with no compromise.
In their heads the band were part of the lo fi underground but those damn great melodies kept sneaking through and they broke out getting lumped into the post Strokes scene that gave the American band far more credence as an influence than they, perhaps, deserve.
“Hey Scenesters!” on 18 April 2005 reached no. 27 in the UK charts, and started their run of 7 consecutive top 40 singles. They may have been a cult but they were now a big cult.
The âkidsâ still wanted to rock and were looking for guitar action and the Cribs fitted the bill, although they were far above any cobbled together scene that had now morphed into the post Libertines led garage rock shuffle. Nowt wrong with the Libertines, they were a great band but give the Cribs credit, they already had their own thing going and were fast becoming firm festival favourites and it was their appearances at these festivals that really made the difference.
When Johnny Marr surprised everyone by joining the band made a great job on encompassing his talents like on the Smithsy We Share The Skies which they play tonight but itâs their post Jonny Marr album that is perhaps their finest yet. In The Belly Of Brazen Bull was recorded by Steve Albini at his fantastic Chicago studio and, as ever with Steve at the desk, the rawness and the power is underlined and for a band always concerned by the reality of the sound unfucked by the cowardly radio friendly mixes this was a perfect scenario.
Tonight they come on stage to Argents âGod Gave rock n roll to youâ¦â an anthemic hit from way back in the seventies. It sets the stall.
Live the band maybe playing a big venue but they perform by the seat of their pants, a style that has been a large part of their appeal from the start. Ryan Jarman sings into his mic from all angles- sometimes with his back to the crowd, sometimes side on, his twin brother Gary hammers his bass and sings as well or they sing in a cool, slipshod manner together and itâs this on the edge of falling apart style of their beloved Replacements that gives the band their own thrilling edge.
They are not scared of twisting the formulae though and on Pure O the spoken word section is intoned from a face on the band’s backdrop whilst they lay out the harmonies on top in a successfully experimental song.
Itâs the Nirvana thing that n their mix somewhere thatâs intriguing. They donât sound directly like the grunge heroes but they have that heroic rock n roll is everything approach, that belief in the indestructibility of the sound and fury and that love of songs ending in a squall of feedback with a set ending in guitars flying across the stage and a drum kit taken apart.
There can be no encore, there is no gear left and besides they already hit the climax and the return would be far too fake and showbiz and this is far from showbiz but a snapshot the real UK played by one of the best bands in the country.
Tonight was a victory.
1. Come On, Be a No-One
2. Our Bovine Public
3. Girls Like Mystery
4. We Share the Same Skies
5. Glitters Like Gold
6. Jaded Youth
7. You Were Always the One
8. Back to the Bolthole
9. Mirror Kissers
10. I’m a Realist
11. To Jackson
13. Another Number
14. Pure O
15. Be Safe
16. Hey Scenesters!
17. Men’s Needs
18. It Was Only Love
19. Don’t You Wanna Be Relevant?
20. The Wrong Way to Be
21. City of Bugs