Quite why Leeds-based noiseniks Menace Beach are tonight's openers is a little difficult for one to comprehend; their revolving cast of members are arguably far more relevant to today's current musical climes than The Ordinary Boys could hope to be ever again, not to mention the distinct lack of embarrassing TV panel show appearances which works in MB's favour. Such is the case though, and whilst the band take to the stage in front of a less-than-capacity crowd, they unsurprisingly aim to tear The Ritz a new one.
Playing a set comprised almost entirely of tracks from their recently released debut Ratworld, there are definitely those in the audience who appreciate what they're seeing, and fan-favourite 'Honolulu' provides the first evidence of the carnage that will later unfold. For the most part however, the majority of the audience appear more concerned with the overpriced drinks on offer, though there are those in the know too, and by the time they close with the excellent 'Lowtalkin'', there's more than a few converts in the crowd. Though they've been dubbed as a “supergroup” that holds connotations of stardom, and the members of Menace Beach are far from household names. That said however, they are a band on the cusp of breaking through, and the fact that they're an amalgamation of such disparate yet defining parts will make it all the more sweeter for the UK underground when they do.
With the crowd beginning to get somewhat antsy over the prospect of The Cribs, The Ordinary Boy's set falls largely on deaf ears and whilst once-established tracks such as 'Over The Counter Culture' do find some footing with the crowd, newer material slips and lands flat on its face. It's a shame really, as the energy and urgency with which the band play is impressive, it just feels like it's too little too late.
“We're The Cribs, and we're from Wakefield,” shouts frontman Ryan Jarman as he bounds on to the stage, complete with trademark box fringe and fertility-damaging jeans, the band really do love to remind people where they're from. It feels a little needless, given that they're ten years in to a career and arguably the town's best-known export, but there are those in attendance tonight for whom this will be their first experience of the band; their fresh faces beacons of false-hope among a sea of grizzled veterans, and my god, are they in for something special.
Much like last year's Payola, tonight's setlist is greatest hits of sorts, with the brothers rattling through fan-favourites such as 'Mirror Kisses' and 'Martell' in excellent fashion. Of course there is new material on offer as well (“We're gonna play some new ones now, but we’d prefer it if you pretended you knew them instead of just standing there.”). Unsurprisingly these tracks are met with as much gusto as the likes of the ironic 'Hey Scenesters', and as mosh pits open and close within the heaving mass of bodies a few feet below the balcony, not for the first time are we glad of the relative comfort we're in by comparison.
There's a reason why The Cribs are still relevant when so many of the contemporaries have fallen by the wayside, and believe it or not, it isn't their diversity. The Cribs carved their niche years ago, taking their place as indie royalty despite the fact they've never reached the dizzying heights enjoyed by the likes ofKasabian or Arctic Monkeys. Instead the band have maintained an Everyman approachability, something that can't be said for Alex Turner and co, and the fact they can not only sell out venues such as The Ritz, but also tear the metaphorical roof off with tracks over a decade old is a testament to both the band, and their fans. And having heard material from the forthcoming record, it's safe to say the band won't be going any where any time soon.
Photo: Michael Bond