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The Cribs, O2 Institute, Birmingham

  • Published in Live

It is testament to a great album that almost 2000 people can gather in a city long untouched by its writers to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of its release. The room feels filled with sentimental sensations of nostalgia, as the three Jarman brothers and an unnoticed extra guitarist take to the stage prepared to break the walls down in memory of Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever.

God Damn and Sløtface warm up the mixed age crowd, the former an angry three-piece happy to rip off your face in the name of thick riffs and socialist politics, while the latter calm the waves before an inevitable storm, the Norwegian punk-pop quartet curating an early-noughties escape to enjoy. The wait is almost over.

Faithful to the album, the room erupts as The Cribs kick into the ever-explosive, ‘Our Bovine Public’, leading a rollercoasting handful of openers, and exploring side A with verve and vigour. The track is a slap round the face and a kick up the backside to initiate any encounter, the perfect broken handshake, and an introduction like no other, as a string of pop-rock hits cast the old and young in sing-along to Ryan Jarman’s (guitar and vocals) punked up spits.  

The trio are a unit of bundled aggression, operating as one, with the alternative and unpredictable charisma of Ryan rendering unmissable moments infinite, held down by the shots and strikes of brother Ross (drums), and storytelling shouts of Gary (bass and vocals).

A brief look around tells 2000 stories, every silent watchman, crowd-surfer, pint-thrower, and lyric-knower sharing their connection with the band, as the pretty tale of ‘I’ve Tried Everything’ is told, and ‘Be Safe’ opens all the boxes to the crowd’s chorus cries of “I know a place we can go where you’ll fall in/Love so hard that you wish you were 10.”

As the band squeeze all they have left of the album through a refreshing ‘Ancient History’, ‘Shoot The Poets’ summons a necessary break of acoustic artistry from Ryan, exposing more deeply the perhaps under-appreciated musicality at the band’s core.

Cutting off their track-listed chains, The Cribs then tear through a secondary set of smash-hits and rarities, occasionally challenging the encyclopaedic memories of hardcores I tip my non-existent hat to.

Pounding grunge number, ‘Come On, Be A No-One’, resets the clock for a drag back to the present, via the unchartered b-sided worlds of ‘Kind Words For The Broken Hearted’ and more, as the brothers time travel through their discography, still with as much energy as the sound they shape.

The band hereby exhibit the quintessential pop sensibility under their punk rock playing with recent single (in the context of the album commemorated), ‘Different Angle’ the stand-out track of the night, portraying the same twee simplicity as debut single, ‘Another Number’, the performance of which provided a late insight into the band’s incredible rise to becoming “Britain’s biggest cult band”, all the while keeping true to their DIY principles and pop eloquence.

An anthemic closing rout of ‘Pink Snow’ releases all that remains, unleashing furies and celebrating successes, before the loyal Midlands fanbase leave with a smile on every face.

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