Andy Lee has seldom seen nights like this. The world champion boxer only just managed to remain on his feet after 19 rounds of glorious melodic punk from the Jarman brothers, aggressively delivered amid ferocious moshing, furious pogoing and the incoming jabs of crowd surfers’ trailing legs. Opening with ‘Mirror Kissers’, The Cribs spit out their disgust from the off at “the mirror kissing ways of the hipster type” and reaffirmed their steadfastness in sidestepping any scene in which to pigeon-hole them. It is this resoluteness that has become their trademark and the catalyst to their 13-year longevity whilst others have fallen by the wayside.
A rousing ‘Come On, Be a No One’ further emphasised their objectives, hollered back at the brothers with wails of “for youuuuuu” by a sweat-drenched audience loyally onside throughout. “This is definitely the best night so far,” Ryan Jarman noted half-way through. “You guys are really up for it.” And they certainly are, as fan favourites ‘Watch Trick’ and ‘What About Me’ are interspersed with familiar singles such as ‘Cheat On Me’, ‘Our Bovine Public’ and a superb ‘We Share the Same Skies’, dedicated to Lee.
What impresses most is how easily the poppier hooks off For All My Sisters slot into a familiar set, particularly the deliriously infectious indie of ‘Burning For No One’ and the lovelorn frustration of ‘Diamond Girl’. Anyone hesitant about a sheen of polish being applied to the band’s output will be reassured by a delivery that remains reliably damaged. The Cribs haven’t strayed too far from their punk parameters.
This is rammed home by a closing salvo that includes ‘I’m A Realist’, ‘Hey Scenesters and ‘Men’s Needs’ (for which the most vicious moshing was reserved). Some will have been surprised of the band’s return to a smaller venue in a year when they’ve released perhaps their most accessible record, but then the trio have never followed a prescribed pattern. While the venue may have been near sold-out, this truly independent trio are anything but.