2013 marked the ten year anniversary of Wakefield’s finest contribution to the music industry. And on the back of touring the new album Belly of the Brazen Bull the trio announced they would be playing a one off gig in Preston and I just couldn’t resist. I arrive late, missing the supports. But who cares – tonight is about one band only… The Cribs.
I have never seen a crowd quite like this. The front is a chaos of underage Gallagher wannabes, fuelled on beer and testosterone. Amongst these are the real fans competing for whatever small opening they can find, trying desperately to get close to Ryan, to breathe the same air as him. As they begin with ‘Back to the Bolthole’ the whole atmosphere immediately changes, the lads have settled down and it’s all getting a bit serious. It’s a perfect opener. You might mistake Ryan Jarman as being a little bit disinterested; I started to wonder whether he really wants to be here. After all, this is just a warm up gig for their NME award show.
But as the chorus kicks in you feel rather foolish for doubting him. Ryan throws himself into the song; you could say he is just shouting, but to me this is The Cribs at their absolute best. Unrestricted and free from the shackles of the studio setting, this song packs a huge punch of emotion. A real crowd favourite from the new album, ‘Come On Be A No One’, follows. This has everyone bouncing, so much so that I take a stray shoe to the face. This proved only a mere minor distraction to what was happening on stage and I pulled myself back together as Ryan and Gary greet the room with a Wakefield ‘hellerrrrr’.
A stream of classics follow, ‘I’m a Realist’ being the pick of the bunch. This song, along with ‘Men’s Needs’ contains less of the unpolished punk aggression and more of the catchy indie rock vibes. Whatever your preference though they are undoubtedly real iconic anthems. An acoustic performance of ‘Shoot the Poet’ and ‘It Was Only Love’ prove to be overwhelming renditions. Ryan hasn’t got the best voice, but there’s something truly enigmatic about it. He said that music magazines are always criticising his inability to sing – the crowd responded with ‘we don’t care’ to which he replied ‘yeahhh, neither do I’. A unique medley of ‘Like A Gift Giver’, ‘Butterflies’ and ‘Arena Rock Encore With Full Cast’ demonstrates the band’s recent mastery of guitar and accentuates their growth as musicians.
They close in the usual style with ‘City of Bugs’. It’s always a worry when they play material from their fourth album, will they be found wanting in the absence of Johnny Marr? Truth is they don’t need him at all. Ryan and Gary can kick up a storm by themselves now.
Tonight there will be no encore, the gear is smashed up and Ryan is lost somewhere in the crowd. I leave feeling that was a real one off gig, something of the likes a small venue such as 53 Degrees will never experience again. The Cribs are a band that, no matter how big they have become, never forget who got them there. The fans.By Oli Turner