REVIEW: The Cribs, Gorilla, 09.12.17

  • The Cribs held a four day residency at Gorilla as part of their Cribsmas tour
  • Melissa Svensen caught them on the second date

There’s a tendency to unfairly lump The Cribs in with the ‘landfill indie’ of the mid-noughties – a Guardian article earlier this year mentioned in them in the same vein as The Wombats and The View, as a sort of comeback act, when they announced a tour to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever. Yet as the release of their seventh studio album 24-7 Rock Star Shit in July, as well as the return of their Cribsmas tour seeing them sell out residencies in Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds and London, proves the Jarman brothers are, in fact, well and truly in their prime.

Heading to Gorilla for the second date of the Manchester residency, it was impossible to know what to expect. With rotating support acts – the 9th saw Chester-based newcomers Peaness take the first slot, followed by Newcastle’s Demob Happy – that prove the Cribs’ sublime taste in new music, as well as no planned setlists, they ensured no two dates on the Cribsmas tour would be the same, and it made for a show which, rather than chaotic which you would expect from a lack of plan, proved the band’s dedication and love for their own records, and for playing live.

It proved their fans’ dedication, too. There’s a certain breed of Cribs fan – one I naively thought I may have been with my vague knowledge of their b-sides – who possess a dedication far beyond anything I’ve seen; who know the words to every song, be they old, firm favourites, new offerings or forgotten gems, and sing along with reckless abandon to all of them. It seemed The Cribs knew that Cribsmas is for this breed of fans, and the setlist certainly wasn’t made for those who dabble in The Cribs. With the likes of ‘Confident Men,’ and ‘Hari Kari’ making an appearance, for the first time in 4 and 3 years respectively, it was a setlist made for those who’ve been there for a while – who know the back catalogue.

There’s something odd about a setlist where it’s all to play for. Usually when a band don’t play your favourite it’s excusable, forgivable since they never do. When it could be anything, however, it feels like a personal attack when they don’t play that track you’ve been dying to witness live; and when they do play it, it feels even more special. It’s hard not to sound like a gushing fan (perhaps it’s easier to just accept that I am) but as the Jarman brothers stood on a stage covered in fairy lights singing ‘Leather Jacket Love Song,’ Gorilla felt like an incredibly special place to be.

There was an energy, too. An energy perhaps ill-advised for a band just six dates into a 16-date tour, but one that was matched, if not surpassed, by the crowd and one that made the show truly electric.

Gushing aside, as The Cribs stormed through a haphazard show (in theory but not delivery), featuring tracks from all seven album, including this year’s 24-7 Rock Star Shit which was recorded completely raw in just five days, they proved their punk ethos and that, in 2017, they’re just as relevant, if not more so, than in 2005.