The Cribs, Kentish Town Forum, London
Northern souls win more hearts
When you bring together one of the finest Mancunian guitarists of his generation with a band of raucous Wakefield new-wave rockers labouring for the last five years under the tag of the great hope of the British guitar band the results are bound to be impressive. What no one can have realised, though, is quite how well the combination works.
Even with the addition, last year, of Smiths maestro Johnny Marr on guitar, there is nothing coy about the Cribs. From eschewing the tradition of encores to their uncompromising DIY style of playing and recording, they ooze a charming authenticity, despite being, as lead singer and guitarist Ryan Jarman concedes at one point during the evening, "not a radio band". In trying to describe their live performances it would be painfully easy to lapse into Northern cliché, with phrases like gritty, no-nonsense, down-to-earth all embarrassingly appropriate. In truth, though, swathes of tonight's show lift them above such faint praise. The projected voiceover of Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo on "Be Safe", for example, or the overwhelming enthusiasm with which they are encouraged by an audience consisting of fans both cheery and impassioned.
Having never seemed so far from his beginnings as the man who combined new-wave miserablism with surf guitar in the Smiths, Johnny Marr's screaming Fender Jaguar crashes into Ryan Jarman's Epiphone with all the ferocity of a modern-day instrumental War of the Roses – but the illusion of combat is precisely that, and over the evening their musical concord is exactly as Marr recently described the duo's approach to instrumentation – a "twin-guitar attack". Their transpennine special relationship is reiterated when, during "Emasculate Me", Marr and Jarman play their guitars back-to-back in a rare moment of rock pomposity.
"Do we have any old-school Cribs fans here?" Jarman asks, to chants of adulation from the audience, before launching into "We can no longer cheat you" from 2005's "The New Fellas". Though their older material sits comfortably with recent work like "Ignore the Ignorant" (the title track from their well-received most recent album), Marr seems at some points underutilised, although it is perhaps more of a reflection on how impressive he's been over the course of the gig than on the lack of new instrumentation for songs written when the band were still a three-piece.
Visibly relaxed onstage, Marr has commented on the "refreshing lack of neurosis" among his new bandmates, who are all brothers. Perhaps the element of the Cribs' songwriting that aids them most live is their ability to compose songs with vocals so firmly in the middle of the male register that the audience of thousands has no trouble contributing to the performance. Their punchy choruses turned into a swooning singalong, the venue reverberates with the melodic alienation of a pitch-perfect indie performance.
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
- 2 Louis van Gaal gets tough with Manchester United players, with Darren Fletcher and Luke Shaw berated in public and Phil Jones left looking bemused
- 3 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 4 Peaches Geldof inquest: Tragic final moments of socialite's life reveal she lied to husband about failed heroin tests
- 5 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?
Hercules, review: Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson takes centre stage in preposterous film
Fight Club 2: Chuck Palahniuk sequel is a 'meta-fictional comment on the cultural response to the original'
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia