The Cribs, Special “Cribsmas” End Of Year Show: O2 Academy, Leeds

After their legendary “Cribsmas” shows at Brudenell Social Club in 2007, over three nights, The Cribs returned for “Cribsmas 2”, this time at the O2 Academy for two nights. This gig was the first of the two events and was billed as “Old Skool Night”.

The night began with the hotly tipped The History Of Apple Pie. The angelic voice of vocalist Stephanie Min layered over lo-fi rock, with hints of Sonic Youth and Smashing Pumpkins, proved to be a strong starting point before the return of a former Leeds favourite for the second support slot.

It was then time for the one-off reformation of Black Wire. The Cribs personally badgered Black Wire into getting back together for one last time especially for this gig. They stepped back into it as if they had never been away and the crowd lapped up their energetic, American influenced, post-punk stylings.

The audience was now fully warmed up and anticipating the arrival of The Cribs. As the lights dimmed and their coat of arms was raised, to the backing of ‘The Campaign For Real Rock’ by Edwyn Collins, The Cribs arrived on stage and broke straight into ‘Hey Scenesters!’. The energy purveyed on stage was only equaled by the energy emanating from the crowd as the party started with a bang.

The Jarman’s then proceeded to rattle through a set comprised of tracks from their first two albums The Cribs and The New Fellas, with some b-sides from that era thrown in. The set was perfectly constructed so that the atmosphere built with every song. ‘I’m Alright Me’ had the crowd singing along early on and the noise levels went up a further notch when it was followed directly by ‘Don’t You Wanna Be Relevant?’. Gary Jarmans’ bass was shaking the whole room at this point.

Favourites such as ‘You’re Gonna Lose Us’, ‘Mirror Kissers’ and ‘Another Number’ got huge receptions, sparking mosh pits and crowd surfing. This gripping and joyous celebration of The Cribs early work ended with an impassioned and explosive rendition of ‘The Wrong Way To Be’ complete with the raucous crowd chanting along with the final section of the song before the traditional ending of a Ryan Jarman stage dive.

In contradiction to the last “Cribsmas” the guitars and vocals were crisper and clearer but without sacrificing any of the energy and spontaneity of their usual performance style. The Cribs have found a delicate balance between keeping the energy and angst within a set but without it spilling over into a slightly shambolic and chaotic performance with Ryan throwing himself around the stage. The new balance works perfectly and takes nothing away from the experience. On the basis of this gig The Cribs are on the best live form of their career.

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