It’s not truly Christmas until you’ve seen The Crookes play one of their festive shows, inviting you in with upbeat indie-pop and a free mince pie. Last weekend, tinsel adorned every surface of the Queens Social Club, wrapped around mic stands and tangled with fairy lights, giving the venue a shoddy Santa’s Grotto kinda vibe.
The crowd were in good spirits when support band Hot Soles took to the stage; a hometown show for both acts meant it was going to be a big night for all involved. Lead singer Kieran Wardle was a fierce force of vitality as he came to the front of the stage, beckoning the audience to join in with the chaos: “We do not take any prisoners!”
They teased the room in-between songs, building up into the next rock-fueled track. Hot Soles are a terrific force of nature, these two, as they make enough noise for a band of four or five, blowing away anyone in the vicinity with their sheer volume.
Whilst frontmen usually take the glory, Kieran gave every credit to his bandmate Richard Birkin when he could; most notable when the lead singer left the stage to walk through the ruckus. At times we thought we had lost him but, no, we could hear the guitar power through the amps as Kieran got up close and personal to his fans. Hot Soles had captured the imagination of an entire venue, dominating the room and winning over many new fans. It was an impressive start to the night and left the crowd excited for more.
Seasonal hits filled the airways as we waited for The Crookes to take their turn, complementing the ridiculous amount of tinsel that decorated the room. If you’re a Scrooge, this wasn’t the place for you.
Suddenly, as though a Christmas wish had just been granted, The Crookes jumped on stage and dived straight into their popular festive track ‘You’re Just Like Christmas’. Nostalgia lingered in the air as the beloved Sheffield band brought season’s greetings to the steel city; lead singer George Waite sang the lyrics of another life, spreading the festive cheer from Sheffield to Santa Cruz.
“Sheffield!” lead singer George Waite bellowed, with a gracious bow, “Are you feeling Christmassy? Because we’ll be playing an awful lot of Christmas songs…” The show was sprinkled with famous festive tracks and (even more popular) Crookes anthems as the boys treated us to renditions of ‘Baby Please Come Home’ and ‘A Collier’s Wife’.
“I think we’re all gonna play this show with massive grins on our faces,” George told us, before adding: “We’re going to play a very old song, now. We first played it at a house party with much less people, and significantly less tinsel…” Their first single ‘Backstreet Lovers’ was followed by one of their newest tunes ‘I Wanna Waste My Time On You’, triggering one of the greatest stage invasions I’ve seen in some time. Those closest to the band jumped up on stage with them, whilst those further back began crowd-surfing across the room, fully enjoying the level of chaos that The Crookes had brought to Christmas.
The night ended with an encore of ‘Santa Baby’, blending seamlessly into ‘Yes, Yes, We’re Magicians’, bringing us together with familiar songs that everyone knew the words to. The Crookes are heroes of this city, and celebrating the holidays with them felt as traditional as hanging stockings on the mantelpiece.
Speaking with him after the show, George estimated the band had played over 150 shows this year; a remarkable feat for this indie band as they toured from the USA to Europe and back again, several times over. But it was shows like this, where the gig is a mere stroll from where the band first formed, will always be better. This was a night for the young.
Christmas is a time for nostalgia, and there’s few bands that I relate to that word other than The Crookes. This is the first band I fell in love with, the one that sparked my interest in the live music industry and shaped my life as it is now. And it’s a relief that, even four years later, the boys have still got that spark, inspiring the world with one excellent gig at a time. Merry Crookesmas, everyone.