The Cribs/Deap Vally/Drenge
O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London, February 25
Not content with having the best new band name in Britain (let it drip off your lips: Drrrrreeeeeenge), the Castleton brothers opening tonight’s show are also among the most exciting live acts you can catch right now. Raw and rude, Drenge’s malevolent grunge playfights seem mostly to concern resentment, contempt and hatefucks (see ‘I Wanna Break You In Half’), exuding the evil humour of Shellac or Pissed Jeans, and making a heck of a racket for two skinny boys.
They certainly get the crowd riled up for the next mean motherfucker two-piece of the night, Deap Vally, who defy the early-doors cold in gold lamé (drummer Julie) and Daisy Dukes (singer/guitarist Lindsey) and fly brazenly in the face of audience reserve with their raw and rampant bedroom Led Zep strut. ‘Your Love’s A Lie’ is all faster-pussycat-kill-kill aggression and Lindsey’s raw yowl of “You got the face, the face to launch a thousand ships“.
Things are at a dangerously fresh level and, as a band now nearly 20 years in the game, it’s down to …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead to add some sort of decorum to proceedings. Well, the sort of decorum that manifests itself as throwing yourself around the stage in a storm of riffs before diving into the crowd and smashing up your drumkit, anyway. It’s a level of demure deportment that can obviously only be maintained by The Cribs.
If the Jarmans are feeling sentimental about rounding off a decade of indie-rock integrity and bratty noise, they act it out in entirely Cribsian and scrappily brilliant fashion. It’s a night for fans, and one of exuberant nostalgia. They delve into their deep cuts with the rarely aired ‘Shoot The Poets’ and the lovably acidic dawdle of ‘It Was Only Love’. Of course, there’s a victory lap through the hits as well, Ross climbing on top of his bass drum (not for the first time) during ‘Cheat On Me’. Looking back at their career, it’s hard not to notice once more how many songs The Cribs have about the notion of fakery or selling out – from ‘Mirror Kissers’ to the title of their new ‘best of’ compilation ‘Payola’, it’s a constant bugbear. So it’s a pleasure, as they indulge in the entire four-part closer of last album ‘In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull’, to feel that with ‘Arena Rock Encore With Full Cast’, they’re at a place where they’re not only at ease with themselves, but proud. And as they close with a vibrant double whammy of ‘Men’s Needs’ and ‘City Of Bugs’, you can’t help but second that emotion.