Live Review: The Cribs

The expanded band seem a much calmer bunch now, but it wouldn’t be a Cribs show without some drama. Anson Rooms, Bristol, Saturday, October 10

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Peep Show’s Super Hans once asserted that “We’re backstage – someone’s got to suck someone off”. Well, tonight we’re at a Cribs gig – someone’s got to pass out. Usually it’s Ryan Jarman during his shoeless crowd-dive. Tonight, however, it’s a lad in the front row, slumping out in the sweaty crush, his girlfriend’s disturbing screams snapping the intro to ‘Save Your Secrets’. Ryan, Gary, Johnny and Ross let their instruments hang as security haul the deadweight over the barriers. His eyes flick open as the guards hug-pull him to safety. “He’s alright,” Ryan phews.

It had been feared that these tinges of danger which made the band arguably the most essential live act in the UK had been ironed out for touring new album ‘Ignore The Ignorant’ – Johnny Marr providing a big-brotherly calmness and the new songs boasting layers of sophistication beyond the usual frenetic punk-bursts. Are the bloody-chinned Cribs mellowing? “I’ve been ill,” Gary splutters after a singalong ‘Girls Like Mystery’, combating a phlegm-y chest. “There was no doctor in Bristol who could see me.” So, while it might be crowd members rather than singers collapsing at Cribs shows these days, there’s clearly still the element of the runaway ambulance to this tour – their biggest with a full-time tour bus bunk for Johnny.
“We’re The Cribs from Wakefield, Manchester and Portland,” is now Ryan’s intro, but their expansion, both literally around the globe and on record, clearly didn’t stop when the new album was completed. The gloomy intro to the pre-Johnny ‘Men’s Needs’ now boasts a delicious glow of Marr guitar before Ryan’s needly riff skewers in; set closer ‘City Of Bugs’ is bulked from an album curveball to a euphoric bluster-rush, and even rip-ups like ‘Hey Scenesters!’ are delivered with the four-man freshness of the vegetarian spread on the dressing room sideboard.

Later, backstage, we see that the brotherly bickering of earlier tours has been replaced with grinny chit-chat. However, we’re reassured that The Cribs haven’t quite traded grazed knees and bags under the eyes for Ainsley Harriott cous-cous dinners. Ross, still hazy from a 6am party, points out a member of support Lissy Trullie’s band who “tore a big chunk” from her knee during last night’s zoning. Gary coughs up another phlegm ball; Ryan sups another beer. The bus leaves for Glasgow at 1am – complete with siren and flashing light, we presume.

Jamie Fullerton

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