The Cribs - In the Belly of the Brazen Bull :
The Cribs - In the Belly of the Brazen Bull :

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The Cribs
Kentish Town Forum
20th October 2012
live review

The Cribs with Edwyn Collins is one of those bills that feels incredibly right, with good reason; between the two is a shared commitment to fiercely independent aesthetics, with a vein of articulate anti-masculinity pulsating through the Cribs records as much as it did early Orange Juice. Furthermore, Edwyn Collins produced the Cribs’ sophomore LP ‘The New Fellas’, and it was in Collins’ studio where the final sessions of the Cribs with Johnny Marr took place (recording 2010 single ‘Housewife’). It isn’t often that you see a venue packed out for the support act, but it isn’t often that a support act carries the history and the sea of goodwill attached to Edwyn Collins.

 

Collins’ band (including the great, near-cult guitarist Little Barrie) begin the proceedings with Orange Juice’s seminal debut single ‘Falling and Laughing’, a few shades heavier than the monochrome jangle of the original recording and sounds all the better for it. The set is heavy with Orange Juice classics tonight; the delightfully spiky guitars of ‘Consolation Prize’ contrast perfectly with Collins’ rich baritone and lyrics of “frightfully camp” Roger McGuinn haircuts and unrequited love. ‘Rip It Up’, one of the definitive indie singles, is note perfect down to the first crunch of the synths to the soaring saxophone solo. Towards the end of the set, the Cribs’ Ryan Jarman appears on stage to much applause for a rendition of their duet ‘What’s My Role’ from Collins’ latest album ‘Losing Sleep’. The set ends with an airing of Collins’ big pop hit ‘A Girl Like You’, the song that gained huge international success for this modest, self-deprecating indie icon. Tonight’s biggest applause comes as Edwyn Collins rises from his seat to hold his walking stick in the air in recognition of the audience’s appreciation and his own remarkable recovery since his devastating stroke in 2005.

 

2012 has proved a year of unprecedented success for the Cribs, following on from a dark period plagued by illness and the departure of Johnny Marr from the band. Their latest album ‘In the Belly of the Brazen Bull’ is the sound of a band regrouping and returning to their initial ethos, and is in parts a very clear reflection of these dark times for the band and has certainly resonated with their ever growing fan base, gaining the Wakefield trio their second album to hit the top ten in the Album Charts. Typical of the part-ironic, part-celebratory humour of the Cribs is their interesting choice of walk on music – the US cock rock anthem ‘God Gave Rock’n’Roll to You’. Received rapturously by the packed out Forum, the Cribs kick off with ‘Come On, Be a No-One’, the lead single from the album with more than a pinch of Nirvana’s heavy distortion over a poptastic chorus. Anyone who caught the Cribs’ acclaimed Reading Festival set will understand the Nirvana comparisons in both energy and songwriting. The set showcases the best of the Cribs’ back catalogue, made up mostly of songs from their latest album and their 2007 breakthrough ‘Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever’.

 

Despite being brothers, the difference between the three onstage is fascinating; Ryan is the most natural on a stage, constantly energetic and cutting a figure somewhere between Johnny Ramone and a pre-Live Aid Freddie Mercury where his twin Gary manages to balance complete passion with a more placid, retiring manner. Ross Jarman is one of the most underrated drummers in Britain, neglecting showboating for constant hard playing. Though the guitars are added to by an onstage touring member (David Jones of Nine Black Alps) it’s clear that the Cribs are a band absolutely re-energised by returning to their three piece roots, and it is this bond that creates the unique onstage chemistry between them that found them a Q Award nomination for Best Live Act up against the likes of the Stone Roses and Bruce Springsteen. Something recognised in the production of their latest album, the Cribs really are a live band – the energy never dips between band and audience and b-sides like ‘To Jackson’ or the spoken word epic ‘Be Safe’ are received with the reverency of big singles like ‘I’m a Realist’. The best received song of the night is, as ever, ‘Another Number’. Never released as a single, ‘Another Number’ is an anthem without the permission of the mainstream radio or music press and is the standout track from their 2004 self titled debut, easily one of the best albums of its decade. The Cribs were not the band that in 2004 critics still expected to be going from strength to strength eight years later, and this is testament to the passion and faith in the band shared by the Jarman brothers and their loyal audience – something not lost on vocalist Ryan Jarman in his sarcastic praise of MySpace and mid-noughties landfill indie to introduce their 2007 hit ‘Men’s Needs’. As scenes, phases, peaks and troughs have passed in British guitar music over the last decade; the Cribs have stood aloof and apart holding their nose throughout.

 

The songs from their second album ‘The New Fellas’ shine brightest tonight – an extended polemic against the vanity and self indulgence of the scenester element in music – from the sharp punk rush of ‘Mirror Kissers’ and ‘Hey Scenesters’ to the penultimate track of the night, a mosh pit inducing ‘The Wrong Way To Be’ veering into spoken word and almost US cheerleader style handclaps. There’s a real sense that this year the Cribs have really been taken seriously in a time when British guitar music is struggling to be taken as anything at all, proving a shining light that authenticity, independence and great songs will ultimately triumph.


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