Review: The Cribs at The Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth (14/02/2015)

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When The Cribs exploded on to the scene during the mid-noughties indie boom they seemed like the sort of band that were either going to implode or age disgracefully. Instead, the Jarmans proved themselves to be able and dynamic songwriters, validating their rather confrontational no-pretence, no-fucks-given attitude that has remained with them throughout their career. Initial offerings from their sixth album showcase the group at their most pop-friendly and perhaps indicate signs of mellowing, a direction which left in less capable hands could easily be a death knell.

Support came from Menace Beach; with a spite-tinged pun on Venice Beach for a name it was of little surprise to discover their penchant for American college rock. The sprinkles of Mercury Rev were complimented by smatterings of Pavement and a slathering of Dinosaur Jr.-type fuzz; however unfortunately the resulting mixture was less than the sum of its parts. The confused sound could be typified by the shirt worn by their geisha-looking keyboardist; a Modern Lovers-pastiche Hookworms tee. Lost in the vortex of their own desperate attempts at being referential, they became muddled and impenetrable. However, although they may have been too-cool-for-choruses at least they remembered to have fun on stage; it was a mess but an excitable mess nonetheless.

While Menace Beach delivered a performance that was unsure of itself, The Cribs knew exactly what the people wanted, opening with ‘Mirror Kissers’. This forceful launch was a catalyst for continued energy; new tracks were greeted with an adulation that one would usually expect from a greatest hit or a biblical resurrection. This vivacity was a mutual affair; Ryan existed in a state of consistent pogoing, Gary screamed as if he was in perpetual agony and Ross consumed nearly as much time on top of his drumkit as he spent drumming on it.

Despite playing a sizeable chunk of their new record there was still equal opportunities for their myriad of singles with ‘Come On, Be a No-One’, ‘We Share the Same Skies’ and ‘I’m a Realist’ all receiving outings. Yet, it was lesser-knowns such as ‘Another Number’ that were rewarded with the grandest audience response; the timid and restrained riff transformed in to a beery football chant by the crowd. Once described as “the biggest cult band in the UK”, they are still well within their right to retain that tag.

Finishing with a triple-whammy of ‘Hey Scenesters!’, ‘Men’s Needs’ and ‘City of Bugs’, Ryan hurls his guitar in to an unsuspecting amp stack. No encore. No pretence. No fucks given. Yes, The Cribs are exactly the way that they have always been. And that’s a pretty fantastic way to stay.

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I write about music. When not at gigs I like to spend my time being annoyed that I'm not at a gig. UPCOMING // Takedown Festival

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