Live Review

The Cribs, Birthdays, London

As Gary puts it, ‘There’s still life in the old dog yet’.

‘I feel like The Beatles at the Cavern,’

says Gary Jarman, surveying the heaving mass of bodies packed into the concrete basement of Birthdays. ‘And as long as we don’t influence Britpop and Mods I’m alright with that.’

We’re halfway through a typically high-octane and sweat-fuelled performance from the Wakefield band. But tonight feels even more special than usual. In a venue this small, for a band who have been creating their joyously messy racket for over for ten years, this is as intimate as it’s possible to see them. In many ways it feels like a chaotic celebration of their career as they play many songs from their early albums including some they haven’t played in years. The mosh pit erupts right from the start, there are countless stage invasions and arms held aloft.

It takes a while for the crowd to get here. The start of the night sees the crowd seemingly unaware of how great Wolf Alice are. Fortunately it does slowly start to dawn on them. ‘Bros’ gets an outing half way through and as they end with ‘Fluffy’ and ‘She’, from their new Blush EP. Vocalist Ellie Rowsell is in captivating form. As a band they sound more muscular than previously, and their confidence on stage has grown. It’s easy to get the feeling that by the time they have an album out, they could go stratospheric.

The repeated chant of ‘Wakefield!’ greets The Cribs as they bound on to the stage. The crowd are uncontrollable from the start; there’s a bouncer standing on stage just to glare. One person is even thrown out during opener, ‘Major’s Tilting Victory’, but before you know it they’re straight into ‘Hey Scenesters’ and there’s no let up.

There are high fives and flags in the crowd - it’s only those bouncers who don’t look ecstatic at the performance. Ryan Jarman is a mass of sweat, long, lank black hair and a leather jacket which is soon discarded while Ross keeps standing on his drum kit to start off tracks.

They rattle through ‘Come On, Be A No One’ which is sung back at them with glee, do ‘I’m a Realist’ and then ‘Martell’ which Ryan describes as ‘one for the old school fans’. There’s a freewheeling, ramshackle feel to the whole gig. You can tell they’re enjoying themselves. They even throw in a cover: The Replacements’ ‘Bastards of the Young’ (released alongside ‘I’m A Realist’).

Ryan dedicates ‘Cheat On Me’ to the his first girlfriend when he was 14, and who, he found out last year, cheated on him at a party. They bash out the absurdly catchy ‘Mirror Kisses’ and Men’s Needs’ and it’s so easy to forget just how many pogoing anti-hero anthems they have.

They even have time to feel nostalgic. ‘We may never have been the biggest band’, admits Gary, ‘but at least the people who like The Cribs believed in The Cribs,’. But before it starts to sound like a sudden and unexpected farewell he quickly adds ‘There’s still life in the old dog yet.’ You better believe it. This is as vital a show as you’ll see all year.

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