Live Review: The Cribs, Leicester O2 Academy (1/11/12)

The term “the best band in Britain” has been banded about a lot over the last few years, with bands such as Radiohead, The Horrors and Blur all being awarded this informal title. Another contender has recently risen in the shape of Wakefield’s The Cribs, who have escaped their indie landfill beginnings to become one of this country’s most relevant rock bands. On their recent tour, The Cribs have earned rave reviews wherever they have performed. Their Leicester gig lived up to these high expectations.

Since the Johnny Marr-inspired ‘Ignore The Ignorant’, the band have re-embraced their punk roots and written a set of songs that make ‘In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull’ one of the best albums of 2012. Gone are the indie dancefloor anthems of ‘Men’s Needs’ and ‘Hey Scenesters’, and in their place, the likes of ‘Glitters Like Gold’ and ‘Uptight’. Perhaps The Cribs are maturing, or perhaps they’re simply shunning the early noughties indie landfill explosion, like a lot of the British music world. Either way, they are one of the most vital bands on the circuit at the moment.

To open the night, Cheatahs, a London-based quartet, constructed snappy grunge-influenced songs. Not dissimilar to the multitude of 90s slacker bands, or current lo-fi revivalists Yuck, Cheatahs are a band to watch out for in the future. Following them, Mazes, another lo-fi inspired three-piece, delivered a set that I feared would never end. Ditching the sun-tinged feedback of their excellent first album, Mazes played a set consisting of krautrock-inspired new songs, in much the same manner as Toy. Toy deliver their songs with aggression and ‘oomph’, yet Mazes, on the other hand, relied on backing tracks and badly-written songs that refused to develop and just became tiresome. Seeing bands heckled is never nice, but with The Cribs lurking on the horizon, it was not surprising to see the audience give Mazes little patience.

During this latest tour, The Cribs have rarely played a set of purely crowd-pleasers, preferring to mix more obscure B-sides and album tracks with their better known hits. However, this Leicester gig was an exception to the rule. They opened with ‘Come On, Be a No-One’, one of the many outstanding songs from their latest album, before whipping the crowd into a frenzy with ‘Our Bovine Public’ and ‘Girls Like Mystery’. Huge moshpits had opened, pints were being thrown everywhere and the crowd was hanging on the Jarmans’ every word and guitar note.

They avoided the typical mid-set lull due to the sheer number of great songs at their disposal. As the band powered through ‘You Were Always The One’ and ‘Mirror Kisses’, it became apparent just how good a live band The Cribs actually are. They adhered to the rock star clichés of kicking microphones and throwing guitars, yet their songs stood up on their own. Ryan Jarman’s singalong guitar riffs, backed by Gary Jarman’s frantic bass-playing and Ross Jarman’s superb drumming, proved The Cribs to be so much more than simply a tribute to British punk.

Ryan Jarman told the crowd that they were nearing the end of the mammoth twenty-three song set. There was still time, however, for ‘Men’s Needs’, ‘We Were Aborted’ and song of the night ‘Be Safe’, complete with a video of Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo delivering the spoken word parts.

As the final notes of ‘City of Bugs’ sounded, The Cribs left the stage with no encore to follow. The crowd filtered out of the venue having witnessed a night of great rock music. There are not many dates left of the tour, but if given the slightest opportunity to see them, you should grab it with both hands. It has been rumoured that this is the band’s last tour before they begin to play arena venues, which could possibly signal another change of musical direction. Whether they mellow or not, it will be interesting to see how this great British band continues to develop.

Alex Neely

…Alex has been listening to Egyptian Hip Hop – Good Don’t Sleep…


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