Gig Review: The Cribs – Middlesbrough Empire

Back with their seventh and arguably their rawest offering to date, The Cribs rolled into the famous and antiquated Middlesbrough Empire on a mission to take listeners on a unadulterated, frenetic sonic thrash. On a dark stage synonymous with the venue, the Jarman brothers showcased exactly why the boys from Wakefield have expanded from noisy underdogs to indie royalty.

As they open with “Our Bovine Public”, the sound rockets out as it shakes both dancefloor and balcony. The reflectiveness of of ‘Rainbow Ridge’ explodes into a raucous frenzy, while fan favourite standalone single ‘We Share The Same Skies’ receives a euphoric response and an acoustic singalong of ‘It Was Only Love’ takes proceedings to different level. Despite the limited space available, the fervour of a crowd who still know every word transport the room back to the times of yesteryear, which the Jarman brothers interject with nostalgic references throughout the evening. 

From the moment they launch into opening track, it becomes evident that is an important night for so many. Majority of the crowd have grown up with this band and it’s unconsciously soundtracked lives. It’s an instance where that Dave Grohl quote becomes clear: “That’s one of the great things about music. You can sing a song to 85,000 people and they’ll sing it back for 85,000 different reasons.”

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Having produced records with the iconic guitarist Johnny Marr, ’24-7 Rockstar Shit’ is a sharp reminder that the band are at their raucous best when production is stripped backed to their DIY punk core. In fairness, The Cribs have never grown apart from their fans; in fact, their latest record has in fact brought both parties closer than ever. ’24-7 Rock Star Shit’, a corrosive punk effort produced in Chicago with the legendary Steve Albini and released at a moment’s notice back in 2017, is a effort that takes the band back to the very beginning.

Whilst the Jarman brothers are best known for their anthemic choruses and infectious riffs, showcased best tonight by the brilliant, overdriven distortion that is ‘In Your Palace’ there are some more delicate moments, namely the acoustic, contemplative ‘Shoot the Poets’.

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Special mention to the enchanting and enticing atmosphere generated by a performance of ‘Be Safe’, the band’s collaboration with Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo. The fact that the band play over Ranaldo’s spoken monologue creates such an atmosphere that explains as to why this track is perhaps their most iconic to date.

‘Different Angle’, ‘Partisan’ and ‘Martell’ are all received greatly. Tonight’s show is all killer no filler. ’Men’s Needs’ arguably wins singalong of the night, while ‘Pink Snow’ serves as the perfect seven-minute set closer with its schizophrenic quiet/loud formula. Never swayed or changed by their relative fame or scenes that come and go, their staying power has never been more certain, and their status as bonafide indie heavyweights isn’t being removed any time soon. The Cribs are still going as strong as ever. Here’s to the next decade, and beyond.

Words: Matthew Thomas

Photography: Darran Moore

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