Reading articles about Wakefield indie guitar trio The Cribs recently, I was somewhat surprised to learn that this current tour marks their tenth anniversary as a going concern. When the turn of the millennium brought the downfall of Britpop and a resurgence in New York hipster bands influenced by the lo-fi guitar lines of Television and street threads of Johnny Thunders, certain U.K. music press – panicked by the thought of their watery scene being left behind – sought to crown a new generation of bands as the great white hopes for British guitar music. Enter a thrown-together group of bands of varying quality and style, consisting of The Libertines, Razorlight, the Jarman brothers of The Cribs, and others. Amid the haze of a million indie bands, the time has passed quickly since their 2004 debut, but are The Cribs still a force, or should they fade into the dark, as so many of their contemporaries have done? Today’s gig would be the only way to tell.
First up in Fortitude Valley’s The Zoo is Filthy Jackal, who despite seeming quite isolated in a sparsely-filled venue put in a decent effort, culminating in their heaviest song of the set, ‘Bereft’.
Following them is Brisbane garage rockers The Ninjas, who immediately up the quality many fold with a quality set of groovy, sleazy, danceable, fat-riffed tunes. Sounding tight rhythmically from the off, their swagger-y songs – including the excellent ‘Yeah Yeah’ – ooze globular hints of Manchester circa 1990 (think Happy Mondays if they could play) and early 2000s indie like The White Stripes; making them a perfect choice for what is to come next.
Releasing a greatest hits record and embarking on an anniversary tour are indulgences for many over-the-hill bands, but within seconds of The Cribs taking the stage, it is clear that the three Jarman brothers (plus touring member David Jones) are anything but past it, and they are pretty damn tour-tight for guys who now live thousands of miles apart. The obvious focus is on singer-guitarist Ryan, who these days could pass for a Dee Dee Ramone look-alike, and bassist-vocalist Gary, but it’s their solidity as a unit and energy that are most impressive throughout the set. Taking songs from each of their five albums, including the excellent ‘Hey Scenesters!’ from Hey Fellas and ‘Come On, Be a No-One’ from In The Belly of the Brazen Bull, the band slash, bash and crash their way through an hour of top quality guitar rock, before heading off stage amid a maelstrom of belly-up drum-kits, dropped guitars, and sweat.
The lesson learned here tonight? The Cribs are in no way a spent force; no f**king way.