Live Review

The Cribs, Glasgow Barrowlands

The band start as they mean to go on.

A Cribs gig is usually as predictable as an octave change in an X Factor winner’s song, right? The Jarman brothers, indie’s most lovable scamps since 2002, will be on top reckless form: Ryan will take his shirt off after guzzling a cocktail of spirits; Ross might break a cymbal during a passionate encore; Gary will look on with a twinkle in his eye while Johnny Marr will look as simultaneously irritated and quietly amused as any adopted elder brother. Sure, it’s indulgent and silly, but that’s why it’s so much fun.

Tonight, however, something is different about this band of brothers-plus-legend: something, much like new album ‘Ignore The Ignorant’, a little bit more grown-up. The band start as they mean to go on, opening with new song ‘We Were Aborted’: it’s trademark cheeky Cribs, but with melancholy lyrics like “Your virility makes me forget empathy”- the first hint towards a more mature sound. It’s a set littered with new material, with songs like ‘Save Your Secrets’ introducing a softer, almost sensual side to Wakefield’s finest. Whether the fans are ready for this is yet to be determined. When Ryan asks who’s bought the latest album, he’s met with a few lukewarm cheers and a short round of applause - not necessarily indicative of withering fan loyalty so much as the bite of the recession.

It has to be said, though, that the Cribs we know and love express themselves best with the oldies: the call-to-arms chant of ‘Hey Scenesters!’, for example, which sends the crowd into something of a frenzy. Between fond declarations of how good it is to be back in Glasgow’s most famous venue, The Cribs roll out familiar hit after familiar hit. The rousing refrain of ‘I’m A Realist’ provides a moment of pure live magic, and when ‘Another Number’ fills the room with its unmistakable hook, the mood is positively euphoric. Recent single ‘Cheat On Me’ wouldn’t feel out of place on an earlier Cribs album, and it’s welcomed by the crowd with as much enthusiasm as classics like ‘Mirror Kissers’ - a song that prompts a mass shuffling of feet from front to back.

The most poignant moment of the gig comes as a video of Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo is projected behind the band, and the first brooding notes of ‘Be Safe’, in all its poetic glory, are played. Ryan - still as charming as ever, of course - remains fully clothed and focused. Ross and Gary, both sporting impressive facial hair, work as a quietly confident rhythm section while Marr (working a haircut as trendy as any young Jarman) barely looks up once- there’s no need, tonight, to subtly scold Ryan or give a disapproving shake of his head. The audience is as captivated as ever - no mean feat for a band more famous for danceable angst than mini-masterpieces. It looks like The Cribs have grown from boys to men - and their future is anything but predictable.

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