Live Review: The Cribs

Date: 19/05/2017

Venue: Kentish Town Forum, London

Over the last two weeks, The Cribs have embarked across the UK with their ‘Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever’  tenth anniversary tour. What amusingly started off as a long-shot request from dedicated fans on Twitter soon became a fully-realised Cribs dream – and fans across the country have turned up in the masses to revel in pure Jarman nostalgia. The penultimate night saw them play a second innings at o2 Forum Kentish Town.

The band pull the ripcord on the night with album opener ‘Our Bovine Public’, the crowd immediately in sing-song mood – and from start to finish that does not stop.  Naturally, album singles ‘Mens Needs’ and ‘I’m a Realist’ get some of the best responses of the night, and deservedly so. In a typically rough-around-edges way, the band play astoundingly note perfect all night, a clear product of Jarman brothers Ryan, Gary and Ross playing live together for the best part of their lives.

Since this is a night for Cribs diehards, the band are in celebratory moods themselves. This is a birthday party, afterall, and if this is a birthday party, The Cribs had to make sure to bring some presents. Of course, long-time fan favourite ‘Be Safe’ is treat enough, which sees the enlarged projected head of Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo spouting spoken word as the band scream the song’s stadium chorus into their microphone, drummer Ross stood atop his kit – but the band go the extra step pulling out rare track ‘Get Yr Hands Out of My Grave’. “We’ve probably only played that song 25 times in our lives,” says Ryan, and comparing the setlist to previous nights he’s not lying. A present indeed.

What made ‘Mens Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever’ so good when it first came out in 2007 is that it was the perfect merger of The Cribs’ two greatest dynamics: catchy, angsty pop songs and ferocious, dirty punk songs. 10 years on, the band have seen themselves move from hometown Leeds to Portland, USA, write and tour ‘Ignore the Ignorant’ with Johnny Marr as second guitarist, and release three more records in total – and three bloody good ones at that. Have any of them topped ‘Mens Needs…’? It’s a tough call, but even the band themselves admit that this is a record they resonate with especially.

The band’s second set following sentimental slow song ‘Shoot the Poets’ compliments the first perfectly – a more recent instant-clasisc in unbearably hooky ‘A Different Angle’, as well as more vintage Cribs bangers ‘Another Number’ and ‘Mirror Kissers.’ Often an issue with bands that have been going as long as The Cribs – and particularly bands that have put out good music as consistently as they have – is the difficulty in picking a setlist. It would be easy for fans to come along and be disappointed that they didn’t hear their favourite. This isn’t a case for the Leeds band. Outside of the fact that this in an anniversary tour, they’ve absolutely refined the art of the all-satisfying setlist.

They end the night with ‘Pink Snow’, the seven minute epic closer from their latest record ‘For All My Sisters’, bringing the band’s history totally full circle.

Only a few days later, with the album’s birthday proceedings drawn to a close with a sensational homecoming gig at First Direct Arena in Leeds, the band have been teasing something new. A distinct logo change across their social media profiles and a mysterious teaser video saw them drop an extremely limited run of a new 7” single entitled ‘Year of Hate’.  The single is yet to surface online, and fans are still speculating whether this could be the start of the punk album they said they were recording to compliment ‘For All Our Sisters’ back in 2014 – or if this is just the band doing things their own way, as they so often do. Only time will tell.

Words by Conor Richards


Check out the video for “Men’s Needs” below:


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Image via Charlie Barnes of Eudaemonia

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