There are few less salubrious gig venues than Abbey Street’s Academy, which formerly housed Dublin’s infamous Spirit club, but there’s something that rings true about a band like The Cribs kicking off their latest tour here. Like the band, the Academy’s history does not always sit well with what it has become, and somehow, because of rather than in spite of it, it has carved out a nice niche as a small-to-medium sized venue for small-to-medium sized acts who are generally on the ascent, career-wise.
That said, size wise it’s quite a tiny venue for a band like The Cribs, and in keeping with this, the show sold out fairly swiftly. Not that that was obvious when opening support act, Dublin’s own Talulah Does The Hula took to the stage to a tiny crowd. Their synthy, breathy power pop is as pleasing to the ear as they are to the eye, and is obviously much indebted to their previous incarnation, The Chalets, but it’s not enough to hold the attention of many.
It’s the arrival onstage of Mr. Adam Green that gets things hyped up, and indeed it seemed as though as many people were there to see him as the headliners. Writhing around like a disturbed animal and semi-Hulking out of a wifebeater aside, he managed to deliver rousing renditions of a few new songs, and classics such as ‘Baby’s Gonna Die Tonight’, and commanded the stage as though it was his gig, albeit in a lovably ramshackle manner.
The Cribs’ live shows are infamous in their intensity (and sometimes, brutality), and as they arrive onstage, it becomes apparent that tonight may not be any different. However, the recent addition of Johnny Marr to the line up appears to have mellowed out the brothers Jarman somewhat. They swoop through oldies ‘I’m A Realist’, ‘Hey Scenesters’ (which is received rapturously) and ‘Our Bovine Republic’. The crowd, which is, as usual, made up of the exact people they lampoon in their best known song, eat it up, sing along and crowdsurf maniacally.
While they haven’t really compromed the raucous nature of their early live shows, The Cribs have managed to harness that same vital energy and channel it into something far more productive. The new song they debut is as singalong shouty as before, but they appear to be maturing into something else: proper songwriters who can command every emotion from their audience. They finish with an epic ‘City of Bugs’ from latest album Ignore the Ignorant, and hopefully send a crowd of kids who came of age with the Strokes into the mild September night thinking of higher things.
Photos: Sean Conroy