The Brudenell’s the longer-established of the two - it’s been on the same site for more than a century - and remains a community hub well in touch with its roots. Fitting, then, that it’s long been recognised as the spiritual home of Wakefield’s band of brothers, who made the short trip down the road to play some of their very first shows here back in 2002, long before they had a record out. They’ve continued to make a point of coming back.
The most notable of those returns came in 2007, when they hosted the original Cribsmas over three December nights, one for each album they’d released to that point; in opening for themselves with a set of B-sides each evening, they ended up playing every single song that they’d recorded to date by the time it was all over. They secured some big-hitting special guests, too, with Kate Nash, Franz Ferdinand and Kaiser Chiefs all making surprise turns. The Cribsmas concept has been revisited since - in 2013, with two shows at the Academy, and they’ve been back to the Brudenell since, too, for a low-key ‘For All My Sisters’ release gig in 2015.
Not until now, though, have they truly followed up 2007, concerts which - among The Cribs’ hardcore followers - are remembered more fondly than any others. A decade on, there’s plenty that’s stayed the same for both band and venue, from the cheap beer (the band have even got their own brew on tonight, ‘Ignore the Ignorant’) to charity collections in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
And just as the Brudenell has continued to serve the local community with zero pretence, The Cribs have never grown apart from their fans; in fact, their latest album has brought them closer than ever. ’24-7 Rock Star Shit’, a caustic punk affair cut in Chicago with Steve Albini and released at a moment’s notice back in August, is a passion project for the band. In response, the trio have eschewed the sort of rooms they’d usually play in favour of multi-night residencies in intimate spaces in Glasgow, Manchester, London and now, Leeds, promising plenty of deep cuts along the way.
The supporting lineups have been forward-facing, with hand-picked bills of up-and-comers involved; tonight, at the first Leeds show, there’s also a nice nod back to the original Cribsmas in that respect, with ex-Kaiser Chiefs drummer Nick Hodgson delivering an assured set. Dutch rabble-rousers Canshaker Pi, meanwhile, bring the curtain up on proceedings with the sort of irresistibly rough and ready punk the Jarman brothers themselves would have been proud of back in their own fledgling days.
They take the stage in front of a gaudy, golden tinsel backdrop, which doesn’t look an inch out of place in the main room. By now, a repeat of that complete look at their back catalogue would be too much of an ask even over five nights, but what we get instead is a giddy run through the Cribs canon, one that’s all-encompassing even by their own standards. Shippo, the band’s longtime tour manager and a cult hero among the fans, has one of the busiest nights of his working life, darting constantly across the stage to deal with a veritable onslaught of crowdsurfers.
All the bases are covered; there’s callbacks to the hedonistic early days, back when “three songs and off to casualty” was their mantra; the raw ‘On the Floor’ is plucked straight from their debut EP. They might have been tempted to ease off ‘Men’s Needs’-era cuts after taking the full album around the country so recently, but no set would be complete without the anthemic ‘Be Safe’. There’s to be no cameo from Johnny Marr to play on ‘Ignore the Ignorant’ songs, as was the case at the last Cribsmas in 2013, but even stand-in guitarist Russell Searle has solid connections to the original run here from 2007, when he lent additional instrumentation to ‘It Was Only Love’ - back then, his old Wakefield band The Research were still a going concern.
Over the next four nights, there’s room for markedly mixed-up set lists - over the course of the residencies, they played seventy-two tracks - as well as the return of the Barman vs. Jarman pint-pulling contest from Cribsmas I; James Brown of Pulled Apart by Horses is heavily involved in the latter, by all accounts. The Brudenell might have had a few licks of paint this past fifteen years, and The Cribs are certainly a lot closer to ticking everything off of their musical bucket list, but this remains blissfully happy and endearingly grounded punk marriage. Here’s to the next fifteen years.
Photos: Andrew Benge