Theatre Royal, Wakefield, May 16
Ryan Jarman is all too aware of the daftness of the position he finds himself in. “Yeah we’re gonna do, like, a career-spanning set,” he drawls to NME backstage, channelling the haughty pomposity of a golden oldie throwback show at the Royal Festival Hall. “Throw in a few B-sides, dig out some album tracks, proper reflect on this whole 10 years of The Cribs thing.”
And yet for all the sarcastic self-skewering, that is exactly the position the Brothers Jarman find themselves in. Ten years ago to the day, the scrappy and nubile Cribs played their first ever show in this very town. Today, the Mayor of Wakefield has lifted the noise restrictions on the neighbourhood for this whiskey-soaked celebration in an art-deco theatre. These are historic times. After Third Man ladies The Black Belles open the show, Wakefield is treated to their second most anticipated indie reunion of summer 2012. Retarded Fish were the first band the Jarmans ever saw, and their clattering punk sees them received like local heroes.
So as The Cribs’ JD Roots homecoming gig unfolds, Gary gives an impassioned shout out to the leading lights of the DIY ’90s Wakefield punk scene, and it’s more thrillingly clear than ever that, Top 10 album or no (“I feel, like, in Queen,” quips Ryan), The Cribs have never been more in touch with the community that spawned them. ‘Come On Be A No-One’ might have emerged as their biggest chorus, but the magic of ‘In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull’ recaptures a spite and purpose not many mortals can pull off come album five.
The cuts hit hard, along with a Greatest Hits compendium of ‘Cheat On Me’, ‘Mirror Kissers’ and ‘Men’s Needs’. But most strikingly of all, when they offer a first-album song-request section (‘The Lights Went Out’ wins over ‘Direction’) they don’t sound like old songs at all. And then, with all this buzz in the room, they power into the toweringly daft finale ‘Arena Rock Encore With Full Cast’ and that, too, makes sense.
There was a suspicion that, following Johnny Marr’s departure, the helium pushing The Cribs towards the big time might have been sucked out. No danger of that tonight. They’ve never sounded so alive and dangerous.