The Cribs have been on a tremendous journey since their humble beginnings in sleepy Wakefield. With the breakthrough-popularity of their third album ‘Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever’ (2007) and the addition of ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr on their fourth album, ‘Ignore the Ignorant’ (2009), The Cribs have rightfully won the respect of the music world and cemented their worth in indie-rock history.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that The Cribs haven’t paid a visit to the Waterfront in Norwich since way back in 2005 when touring their second album ‘The New Fellas’ (2005). Rather understandably, they’ve been spending much of their time on the Reading/Leeds main-stage as of late, hence why we were more than excited to take the rare chance to see The Cribs in such a small, intimate venue. Having seen the Jarman brothers perform at Reading Festival 2010 on the mainstage, I’ve since looked forward to actually seeing them, as opposed to watching them on a big TV whilst squinting in the middle of a field.
As the Wakefield trio (and their additional stage guitarist) took to the stage whilst ‘God Gave Rock and Roll to You’ chimed in the background, it was hard to believe they hadn’t graced The Waterfront in over seven years. Kicking things off with the antiheroic anthem ‘Come on, Be a No One’, it was clear that the people of Norwich didn’t hold any grudges over their absense. This was observed by the general lack of regard for their own safety as several spectators flung themselves into innocent bystanders in what could only assumed to be some sort of interpretative dance. (I later learned that the locals refer to this as something called ‘moshing’.)The Cribs rightfully goading the ‘Spirit of Independence 2012’ Q Award they recently picked up along their travels.
The Cribs are one of those bands who are undoubtedly in their element when performing live, but not necessarily in the uniform sense of things. They’re rough around the edges, the vocals aren’t perfect and Ryan Jarman could destroy his guitar at any moment, but it all marries together to create this unyielding sense of unpredictability. Performing live whilst remaining true to the record is obviously important, but it’s not necessarily always the most gratifying experience. The Cribs incorporate this spontaneous ethos within their set list too, substantially changing it up from show to show and dropping a few more recent singles (as Gary mentioned in our interview) to incorporate a few more classics for the diehard fans. Too often bands are incredibly regiment in their performances and set lists; The Cribs will keep you guessing with both.
One of my personal highlights was ‘Back to the Bolthole’ taken from their fifth and most recent album ‘In the Belly of the Brazen Bull’ (2012). It’s a track which already contains a lot of angst and I was eager to see how it would manifest itself when played live. This track is where ‘rough around the edges’ becomes one of The Cribs’ greatest strengths; Ryan Jarman delivers the pent up aggression of this song twice as convincingly live as on the record. The strained and unrestricted vocals give the daringly bleak lyrics incredible realism and additional live clarity.
Overall, the set list was an eclectic mix of The Cribs across the years, demonstrating everything from the simplistic melodies of ‘Another Number’, right up to the Mancunian riffs of ‘We Share The Same Skies’; however, given that this is technically the ‘In The Belly of The Brazen Bull’ tour, it’s surprising how little of it was featured in the set list that night. The Cribs spoke to us at length about the thought and consideration that goes into balancing their set lists in order to appease the diehard fans with the more obscure tracks, whilst simultaneously maintaining the more casual fan’s attention with ‘the hits’; on top of that, you’ve also got to somehow acknowledge the latest album within all that as well.
The Cribs played:
Come On, Be a No-One
Our Bovine Public
Girls Like Mystery
We Share the Same Skies
Glitters Like Gold
Back to the Bolthole
I’m a Realist
Don’t You Wanna Be Relevant?
The Wrong Way to Be
To check out dates for their forthcoming European tour, head on over to The Cribs’ website!