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The Cribs - Live At ULU, London

The Jarman brothers are back. Hang on though, where’s Johnny Marr? That’s right, they’re minus the honorary fourth brother, who was with them for their fourth album ‘Ignore The Ignorant’ and accompanying tour.

The Cribs have made a steady ascent over their four albums and could be playing in venues much bigger than tonight. From the self titled lo-fi punk debut through to album number three, ‘Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever’, The Cribs have managed to hone their sound to one which is polished enough to sneak onto daytime radio playlists, but still retain that true Cribs sound. A sound which encapsulates the cut lips, broken guitar strings and raucous live shows they’re known for. Not many bands would turn down the chance of having ex-Smith Marr in the band, and the fourth full length definitely packed a few punches, but they seemed to have lost some of that roughness and youthful energy they once had. Well anyway, they’re back sans Marr and the seven hundred-odd heads in ULU tonight are here to see how they fare on their first proper gig on home soil in well over a year.

Launching into new song ‘Chi-Town’, in a similar vein to second album ‘New Fellas’, this three minute thrash through is like walking into CBGB’s in 1974, a no nonsense straight up punk song, and sounds like a return to form. No messing about here and ‘Cheat On Me’ with its Marr stamp creates a mass sing-along from the devoted audience. You wouldn’t know it’s a Tuesday night in here ‘I’m A Realist’, one of those songs that gets everyone singing the guitar riff, sends pints flying everywhere, we are in a student union though, don’t forget.

There is an abundance of new material throughout, ranging from a Stooges-esque number through to big delays and echo on a potential song for the arenas. Having two frontmen in the band shows the versatility of The Cribs, with the shouty thrashier numbers sung by Ryan and twin Gary taking the lead on proper singing duties. It’s not all new though, ‘Hey Scenesters’ being quite apt given the number of them in here, and we’re even treated to first album favourite ‘Another Number’, amongst a nice picking from all four albums.

After declaring they’re going to win the Brit Award for “most misanthropic band” they storm through ‘Our Bovine Public’, a definite highlight to the night and a song which sums up the pure energy and punk ethic of The Cribs.

It’s clear that the Jarman brothers are making a return to their original character with forthcoming album ‘In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull’, with Steve Albini at the helm. This is a band that is having fun again, Dad’s out of the band so turn it up and thrash it out. The change in line up definitely seems to have bought them back to their carefree early days and there will be a sigh of relief from devoted Cribs fans all round. Now to go home and wring the beer out of this t shirt!

Words by Paul Melbourne
Photo by Nabeel Khan

Click here for a photo gallery of the gig.

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