Swaggering onto the stage amidst cat calls and cheers, the Wakefield trio (plus one faintly ridiculed ex-Smiths member) launch straight into new track, ‘We Were Aborted’, quickly proving their worth to the punters. A song later and the ever-catchy intro to ‘Hey Scenesters’ starts up – cue ABC erupting into a chaos of vowels and excitement. Luckily for those who are not Cribs fans (few out of the sold out crowd, it would appear), the hang of The Cribs live is fairly simple — your hair is not supposed to resemble a ‘cut’ nor your shoes be attached to your feet by the end of the final song.
They carry on in much the same form as they always have, the new songs they play dotted among old favourites, showing perhaps a slightly heavier edge than seen previously. Their five new offerings all go down well, however, ‘Cheat On Me’ receiving as warm a reception as any of the singles from their third album. Always a favourite, ‘Another Number’ brings the crowd to riot, yet also highlights the sad lack of first and second album material in the setlist.
The advantages of becoming an older, richer band, however, become apparent when ‘Be Safe’ is played, a projected video across the back of the stage showing a mammoth-sized Lee Ranaldo (of Sonic Youth fame) voicing his spoken-word part of the Cribs/Ranaldo collaboration.
Speaking of rich, famous people, I am still pretty nonplussed as to the point of Johnny Marr’s addition to the band — aside from playing the occasional C chord, his job seems mainly to be that of whipping the crowd into a frenzy and not being biologically related to the other members. True, he succeeds in this effort, but the thought of him singing about the price of bus fares and teenage love makes me a little queasy.
The band end on an ecstatic, extended ‘The Wrong Way To Be’, probably high on the sugar-happy, sweat-drenched crowd — Ryan kicks his shoes into the crowd as a final act of devotion, and it’s a mark of respect that the crowd try to throw them back. The Cribs’ raw pop sensibilities shine through and are enlivened by the fact that they forget words, fall over occasionally and can’t quite escape technical problems at any of their gigs.
Anything unprofessional in another band becomes endearing with them, teenage, and is made up for with pure, bloodthirsty enthusiasm. They are live music at its best, exciting, sweaty, and fun.