The Cribs have always maintained a loyal following since they released their debut back in 2004. But it wasn’t until three years later with the release of Men’s Needs Women’s, Whatever that they cemented their place in indie lovers record collections. It was the perfect blend of their scrappy beginnings with a slightly cleaner, catchier, but unmistakably ‘Cribsy’ sound. To this day it remains the band’s finest work and it’s only right they perform the entire album to celebrate its tenth anniversary.
And so we arrive at their second night playing the, desperately in need of a less cumbersome name, O2 Forum Kentish Town. The venue filled slowly as the supports did their thing, with opening act God Damn only playing to around 50 people. But there was hardly any space to be found as the Wakefield Trio took to the stage and launched into Our Bovine Public.
As the band surged through the opening four or five tracks of MNWNW, without feeling the need to pause, it epitomised everything great about The Cribs. The album may be ten years old but the Jarman’s still perform with the same youthful exuberance they did back then. Belting out every line with blatant disregard for their vocal chords and leaping about the stage with an infectious energy a band half their age doesn’t possess. The audience were right there with them, singing so loudly that Ryan and Gary had to up their game just to be heard.
It also showcased how good these songs are more than simply listening to the album ever could. The first half of the LP is so kinetic it’s practically begging to be played to a crowd who will happily lose their shit. And they did, crowd surfing became a requirement and the biggest audience instigated mosh pit you’ll likely see formed and remained for the majority of the evening.
That’s not to say there were no calmer moments to enjoy. Fan favourite Be Safe was a time to simply sing along loudly with the choruses as Lee Ranaldo’s monologue played over the top through the speakers. Meanwhile, album closer Shoot the Poets was as close to lighters in the air as you’re ever going to get with The Cribs.
And that was that in seemingly no time they had torn through one of the finest indie albums of all time. But that wasn’t the end of the evening, there was still time for more Cribs. They took this opportunity to dig back into their history and pluck out a few B-Sides. The excellent Don’t You Wanna Be Relevant delighted fans who responded to the song like it was a number one hit.
A rarer outing was given to Get Yr Hands Out of My Grave, a track Gary claimed they’d probably only performed about five times. Beyond that, the rest of their discography was shown a little love, except for Ignore the Ignorant, which was, well, ignored. Predictably, Another Number and Mirror Kissers went down a treat as the crowd gleefully imitated the guitar part of the former and just went crazy for the latter. The show then closed with Pink Snow as the Jarman’s left the stage.
It was an imperfect, messy and far from a pitch-perfect show, which is exactly how it should be. If you’re going to see The Cribs you want to see that same band that you found so relatable 10 years ago. That little DIY band that made you think it didn’t matter if you’re not the best at singing or playing the guitar, it’s unbridled passion for music that matters. Thankfully, The Cribs are still that band.