Leeds’ indiest sons (and their famous mates) return to their spiritual home for fun and games
The Beatles had the Cavern, Ramones had CBGB. Everyone has a space that defines their sound and The Cribs have the Brudenell Social Club. Once you make it past the jaunty welcome signs under the arches, the Brudenell comprises a genuine, weathered red carpet and authentic tacky ’70s furniture, topped off by a real-life salty landlady, who spends the afternoons before the band’s three gigs here cooing over everyone and making endless cups of tea. It’s that kind of place: a functioning working men’s club that has grown a semi-legendary sideline in putting on underground bands. Like gazelles and lions at the same watering hole, the old codgers who sup John Smith’s in the lounge bar seem resigned to having their pool games disrupted by a steady flow of slippy indie kids nipping through to use the toilets.
Naturally, for The Cribs, with their gushings about “authenticity”, this place is hog heaven, a long hot bath of lo-fi after a year spent bronzing in the limelight. Gary shakes his head when he sees that the Health & Safety fuzz have constructed a crush barrier for the second night: “It’s just sad that it’s got to that,” he mourns. All proceeds are going to cystic fibrosis charities, so if he looks hazy it’s because Gary’s also spending the week kipping on mates’ couches to spare the cost of a hotel. “We played here once on Ross’ birthday,” he drawls. “We got him this waterbomb gun and spent the evening blasting people in the queue.”
But the band’s association with the Brudenell goes much further back than that – via last year’s ‘Cribsmas’ occupation, all the way to very early gigs playing here alongside Gary’s hero Calvin Johnson and beyond, coming here as gangly youths to watch the man who would later produce their first album, Bobby Conn, or some other superstar of the anorak-indie underworld they inhabited. Over three nights, around 250 fan-club-only zealots will hear The Cribs flick through their scrapbooks as they seal the year of their indie A-list coronation. Each evening the band are playing a different album in its entirety, from start to finish, in order. There are different supports too, some of whom you may know: Franz Ferdinand, Kate Nash, and Kaiser Chiefs. Both Franz and the Chiefs seem to be using their turns as laboratories, testing out bagloads of new stuff.
But wait… there’s more. The scenester-haters have arranged an extra special first support act: themselves, playing the B-sides from each respective era, right from the imaginatively-titled song they wrote in their first-ever practice (‘Song From Practice One’), to the very timely ‘Don’t You Wanna Be Relevant?’. That’s an album’s worth of songs no-one has ever seen live before. There’ll be trombonists. Ryan will play the accordion (and bloody his lip – just like he used to in olden times). Jon Slade from Gary faves Huggy Bear will reprise his spoken-word B-side. Ross has hauled out his old drumkits to add to the method-acting authenticity, while in-between, there’s also some serious village fête action going down: Ryan calling Cribs bingo, Cribs raffles, a ‘Cribsmas Quiz’ for the hardcore and ‘Jarman Vs Barman’ – a pint-pulling competition between a Crib and a staff member, with the resulting beer offered up to the throngs for free.
In times as good as these, one searches for words to console those less fortunate, but all one can ever find to say is this: if you weren’t there, you missed out. Big time. BIG. TIME.