Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London, February 19
“You’re all cool, man. I like you. You like me too, right?” Ryan Jarman, decked out in red leather trousers and matching jacket is grinning from ear to ear and soaking up the cheers. “We’re Exclamation Pony, and we’re your new favourite band!” To say that the singer is vastly changed from the live performer who spits self-doubting missives on The Cribs’ last album ‘In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull’ would be an understatement.
The 32-year-old’s new-found confidence manifests itself in a number of ways, from the sublime to the ridiculous to the vaguely pornographic. Jarman takes to the stage half an hour late with bandmate Jen Turner and their band, and the set begins in surprising fashion. Opener ‘3 Hour Onslaught’ is a total thrasher, Jarman screaming with the passion of someone who’s got a few sets of vocal cords on standby. The needly guitar lines and hooky melodies of ‘Rumours’ follow, bringing the focus back to something more in line with The Cribs and Here We Go Magic, Turner’s band. It’s only when Jarman knocks his drink over and asks for “a quadruple whisky and diet Coke” that anyone realises the pair are smashed. From then on the show is an orgy of shambolic free-spiritedness.
Between ‘Crime’, a brooding tune similar to a stripped-back ‘Back To The Bolthole’, forthcoming loved-up single ‘Only One’ and ever-so-slightly disco (yep, you heard) banger ‘Real Male’, the pair are like a couple of randy teenage ne’er-do-wells. Ryan tries to get members of the crowd to propose to each other, Jen spends half the songs talking to people in the audience before randomly attempting a cover of Cribs B-side ‘Glandular Fever Got The Best Of Me’, while the pair’s intermittent onstage smooches culminate with Turner pinning Jarman (lip burst and bleeding like the old days) on the floor and putting on a display that seems about three minutes away from an actual live sex show. They finish up with a second outing of ‘Rumours’ and then snog a bit more. Sure, it’s chaotic. But it’s just nice to see Jarman having fun.