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- The Cribs »
Not only are The Cribs Wakefield's finest export since rhubarb, they're also purveyors of a fine brand of sixties garage pop that, quite frankly, mops the floor with most other leading products. Any minute now, in fact, I'm expecting a jet-load of Detroit scenesters to relocate themselves and their hipster lifestyles to West Yorkshire. It's a genuine concern.
With a work ethic on a par with Kolo Toure, the fancied band have spent the last few months touring every indie toilet up and down the land. Tonight though - with a gig celebrating the release of their choon-crammed debut LP - they play to a partisan crowd all charged up for their homeys' coronation.
Sporting ill-advised paedophile-tint wraparounds, Ryan (guitar/vocals) and his brother Gary (bass/vocals) are itching to get the party started, but third sibling Ross, the most debonair of drummers, is content to keep us all waiting before strolling on stage with affected nonchalance. Crowning the moment, he then proceeds to douse us all with Morrisons own-brand mineral water. Christ, this is a guy who loves a bit of the limelight. You can't keep the cheeky bugger behind his tubs for love nor money; he swans around the stage like a spoilt kid in Hamleys. All credit to him, he makes Nick Jago seem about as exciting as Charlie Watts.
Once they're actually up and running, and after feeling their feet with mildly autistic opener 'The Watch Trick', they go straight in for the kill. With blistering tenacity, they storm through their catchiest numbers in what seems like thirty seconds flat. The unashamedly brash 'You Were Always The One' and quality shout-a-long 'What About Me' seem (gasp!) even more vital than they do on disc.
And while the LP sounds like it was recorded in a coal bunker, tonight's raucous set replicates perfectly this rudimentary din. They're The Strokes without that nihilistic streak and their winning formula of 'Beatles For Sale' shtick complete with Ramones style axe-chugging bounces off the venue's decaying walls with some vigour.
Ryan and Gary seem to swap vocal duties on a whim and this only adds to the air of spontaneity. There's a directness here, too; a smorgasbord of uncomplicated melody. For anyone who's recently suffered an overdose of the constipatingly opaque Radiohead, here's the antidote. (Though it's a flash of the Oxford quintet we hear when the 'Creep' riff attaches itself to the intro of the crowd-thrilling 'Baby Don't Sweat'.)
It's dumb and it's fun and it's refreshingly irony free. And this is at the core of The Cribs' appeal: it's the apparent naiveté of the guys that is so charming, disarming. There's no overbearing self-awareness. They might have some ace music taste but they don't go out of their way to let you know that they know that you know it.
Then there's a technical hitch - which may or may not have something to do with the band allowing a gyrating masked lunatic onto the stage - and this leads Ryan to save the day with an impromptu and rather scary performance of Carole King's 'Will You Love Me Tomorrow'. It's a classy move and doesn't go unappreciated by a heaving throng which is now populated by one or ten admirably persistent crowd-surfers - their Converse sneakers staring up at the ceiling as their skulls crash into the Stella sodden carpet.
'Things You Should Be Knowing' (Jonathan Richman does 'Rusholme Ruffians') and 'Another Number' (with its overly deliberate riff recalling Malkmus in his pomp) turn out to be the set highlights. And by the end, Ryan opts to scale the PA tower for some high altitude fret-wankery; all the while every man and dog has graced the stage for a mass croon that turns out to be only marginally more listenable than No Doubt's Talk Talk massacre.
So the climax is an utter shambles - a riot. And no-one is entirely sure how to end it so it just sort of fizzles out. It's a premature ejaculation of sorts. The Cribs, it seems, are in it for the sprint rather than the marathon. Still, the day they get all mature and learn to pace themselves will be a sorry one. For them and us both.
(Photos by: Carmel McNamara)
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