The Cribs have been described as the biggest cult band in the UK. 10 years ago at the peak of their popularity it would have been hard to argue, as tunes from the excellent Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever dominated the airwaves. That popularity has waned slightly in the past few years to the point where we are now lucky enough to have them pack out sweaty little rooms like the Lansdowne and frankly they couldn’t be better suited for it.
The band of brothers have been performing together under The Cribs name for at least 16 years now and every single bit of their live show is carefully cultivated for an elegant execution of chaos. From Ryan Jarman’s mic stand placed low, with Gary’s going high, in a comparative execution of discomfort, one leant over spitting down while the other cranes upwards.
Horror My Friend played their part in setting the scene for the chaos that later unfolded. Their thrashy post-hardcore igniting some early excitement. It turned out that their support slot was one five years in the making, having emailed The Cribs at the conclusion of their previous tour that if they were coming back they’d love to play with them. Five years on, here they were, their clout grown to the point that they could easily headline the room on their own. Testing out tracks from their new record they showed off their command of dynamic time shifts and an ability to find melody amongst all the spitting venom.
With an audience packed full of English expats, a strong chant for Yorkshire rippled through the crowd before the Jarman brothers took to the stage. “Our Bovine Public” has long been a favourite opener and one that kicked the room into a sea of flailing limbs. With two new albums under their belt since their last visit, they had a lot of material to work through with a light smattering of the two albums spread out between a collection of fan favourites like “Mirror Kissers”, “Hey Scenesters!”, “We Share The Same Skies” and “I’m a Realist” keeping everyone firmly engaged.
It’s the songs from the last two records that differ most substantially, last years 24-7 Rockstar Shit pushing further towards In Utero era Nirvana thanks to their time in the studio with Steve Albini. For All My Sisters retains a glossy power pop sheen, the rest of the catalogue serving a great focal point between the two, showing The Cribs mastery at writing barroom anthems, the sort of songs that don’t threaten the radio, but securely embed themselves in the mind.
Their experience shows, with the ability to shift tempos. Whether pushing through “Be Safe” quicker to hammer really hammer its climax or slowing things down for acoustic numbers “Shoot The Poets” and “Martell” they are able to execute it with a studied polish that is cleverly obscured, every catchy riff buried beneath a layer of fuzz, each big chorus delivered in a bark or yelp. For all their time The Cribs have been steadfastly dedicated to the spirit of rock and roll, and it’s a treat to see them execute it in a classic barroom environment like the Lansdowne.
The writer attended the The Cribs show on 4th May 2018 at the Lansdowne Hotel in Sydney. Photos by Bruce Baker.