The Cribs: The Ritz, Manchester

Last time The Cribs were on the road they were celebrating their impressive career and the release of their compilation album Payola. Tonight at The Ritz in Manchester the band are on the last night of their tour, set to prove that their two year hiatus has been worth the wait.

Support comes from the phenomenal Leeds-based group Menace Beach, who channel all the best bits of 90s shoegaze teamed with catchy indie-pop melodies. Recent single ‘Tastes Like Medicine’ is a perfect up-tempo mix of sing-along chorus and fuzzy guitar, while ‘Tennis Court’ takes a more grunge approach. They are reminiscent of The Crib’s own early days, mixing the frenetic energy of punk with pop sensibilities. A truly exhilarating live band who will no doubt continue on their upward trajectory in 2015.

Less can be said for the second support act of the night, The Ordinary Boys. Perhaps now remembered more for singer Sam Preston’s stint in the Big Brother house than for their handful of hits in the early 2000s, it would appear the four-piece have been quietly working on a comeback. Their new songs have a more punk rock feel than their older material, indicative of a more mature sound, and the Jarman brothers stand side of stage singing along in admiration. Preston laments the days when, eleven years previously, they were the headline act as The Cribs supported them. Unsurprisingly, their performance fails to pack a punch, and even the reluctant inclusion of old favourites ‘Talk Talk Talk’ and ‘Seaside’ can’t get the crowd moving.

Finally, The Cribs take to the stage to the sound of rapturous cheers, before launching straight into classic ‘Mirror Kissers’; the entire room erupts in frenzy of sweaty limbs and flying plastic pint glasses. As Gary introduces ‘An Ivory Hand’, a track from the forthcoming album For All My Sisters he asks the crowd to pretend they already know it- perhaps an indication that the newer material hasn’t gone down as well on this tour as they might have liked. Yet with a back catalogue as strong as theirs, it’s hard to live up to.

Despite being played live for over a decade, tracks like ‘Martell’ and ‘Another Number’ sound as fresh and energetic as when they were first released. Unlike many of their peers from circa-2004, The Cribs have somehow masterfully escaped falling into the trap of sounding tired or relying on their early hits to bolster their performance; their propensity for not following trends gives them credibility and longevity where others are lacking.

Tonight’s show is about unleashing the new tracks on a larger audience, after testing the water in smaller venues earlier on in the year, including ‘Different Angle’, ‘What About Me’ and new single ‘Burning For No-One ’. The songs are somewhat mellower, more akin to Ignore The Ignorant than the riotous In The Belly of the Brazen Bull. A particular highlight, ‘Pink Snow’ comes towards the end of the set, which descends into fuzzy feedback-laden chaos.

The band end the set with a triple bill of classics; ‘I’m a Realist’, ‘Hey Scenesters!’ and ‘Men’s Needs’. As crowdsurfers fly overhead, it’s disappointing how many members of the audience regard the latter as the greatest Cribs song of the night, but the energy of the crowd is so infectious it’s hard not to get carried away. They finish with the mesmerising ‘City of Bugs’, complete with spine-tingling guitar solo, and no encore is needed. The Cribs have truly cemented their place as a great live band, and the newer offerings will certainly keep fans waiting eagerly for their new record.

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