The Cribs - Live At HMV Forum, London

The best kind of predictability

It is the equivalent of ‘Field Of Dreams’, “If you build it, they will come.” If you throw it at Ryan Jarman, he will put it on.

It's why by the end of this gig he ends up both wearing someone else's t-shirt, and a cape fashioned from a check shirt and an unspecific piece of sopping material attached at the neck. He looks like a thrift shop Superman.

But as gestures go it sort of sums up The Cribs. A band whose only nod towards increasing popularity has been to buck the tradition and improve, rather than turn in increasingly pallid copies of their initial success. A band who do things with an unstyled, unafflicted dedication.

It's a trait reflected in their crowd. Given The Cribs' vitriol towards posers and try-hards, it isn't that surprising to find a lack of cross-armed indifference in the crowd. Just a pogoing mass of people who really couldn't care if this is the place to be seen, or that they've got half a pint of lager left in their plastic glass, the time is right to launch it into the sky in an expression of sheer exuberance.

It brings a tear to your eye. Particularly when the cup hits you. But you know what you're getting with a Cribs show. There's the best kind of predictability which means you know it will be sweaty, messy, bordering on chaotic and yet somehow done with absolute precision.

As it is. As it was. As it will always be. There's no doubt that the last two albums have been bigger and bolder, something that's brought them further away from the spit-n-sawdust, lo-fi sensibilities of the first two, to a more expansive display of craft. They also hinted that perhaps the march of time has converted some of The Cribs' latent anger into something more melancholic. As if ten years of raging against indifference has finally got to them.

But that doesn't make the new songs any less anthemic. Here, particularly ‘Glitters Like Gold’ and the slow march of ‘Back To The Bolthole’ sound epic – they may not quite be as beloved as some of the older material, but you're left with the suspicion they will, soon.

If it wasn't such a dirty word, you'd call it maturing. Not that the fires don't still burn, but the development has given old songs new life. ‘Hey Scenesters!’ has swelled, the sneering malevolence now tied to an almighty sonic wallop. ‘Mirror Kissers’ is a massive spiky ball of contempt, while the riff of ‘Another Number’ has reached the status only afforded to truly memorable licks. Where it can be chanted back at its creator as he stands grinning, instrument untouched, at the front of the stage.

Ten years, five albums, and the Cribs have never been better. Treasure them. There aren't many of their kind left.

 

Words by Tim Lee

Photos by Jack Farrow

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