The Cribs @ Komedia, Bath, 02/09/2016

the-cribsHaving never played in Bath across their 14-year-long career, The Cribs make amends tonight with a set full of old favourites and new cuts that remind us why they’re one of Britain’s best live bands.

Opening tonight’s gig are Brighton’s Demob Happy, a great live band in their own right who are unfortunately plagued with technical difficulties throughout their short set. In the first riff of opener “Haat De Stank”, vocalist Matt Marcantonino breaks a string on his bass guitar, and with no immediate back-up to hand the band are forced to exit stage right and return again a few minutes later. Although struggling throughout with amp-related issues and questionable sound mixing, Demob Happy power on through regardless, their volatile mix of sludgy riffing and hooky melodies keeping the attention of the irritable audience.

The band may be a guitar player short tonight, but the material shines through as dynamic as ever, mainly thanks to Thomas Armstrong’s absolutely belligerent drumming. With fan favourites “Suffer You” and “Succubus” delivering expert musicianship, tonight Demob Happy also prove themselves to be a distinctly professional band dedicated to seeing any unfortunate circumstances through to the bitter end.

In the moments before 9.30 the venue still appears empty, but within minutes it is packed out with an audience of mixed ages, all eagerly awaiting cult heroes The Cribs’ first ever gig in Bath. Walking on to victorious cheers, the Jarman brothers waste absolutely no time by kicking straight into live favourite “Mirror Kisses”, causing a sizable mosh-pit in seconds flat.

The Cribs play a setlist rich in material both old and new this evening, from debut album cut “Another Number” to last year’s singles “Different Angle” and “Burning For No One”. Despite the subtle change in direction across the band’s six studio albums, almost every song tonight is welcomed as an old favourite, including those from last years’ excellent For All My Sisters. And while The Cribs may never have been as commercially successful as some of their peers during the mid-00’s indie boom, tonight’s setlist comes as a reminder of not just how many cracking alternative indie anthems the band have written, but how well they have aged when compared to, say, songs by Kaiser Chiefs or Franz Ferdinand.

A rare outing of non-album single “Leather Jacket Love Song” gets a rapturous reception, while punkier singles “Come On, Be A No One”, “Our Bovine Public” and “We Were Aborted” see a wave of sweaty bodies struggle to keep up with the energy of idiosyncratic guitarist Ryan Jarman alone.

Everyone loves an acoustic song,” notes Ryan dryly before kicking into “Shoot The Poets" from 2007’s Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever. Perhaps the only low point in tonight’s gig, the energy-dampening slow-number nevertheless showcases the band’s crucial tender side.

The only frowns spotted tonight are those of the many security men struggling to thwart the ongoing attempts of stage diving, to mixed results. The band themselves though are clearly loving every minute, with bassist Gary Jarman telling a touching anecdote of how a gig he attended organised by the promotors of Bath’s Moles venue in 2001 inspired him to form The Cribs.

The band deny themselves an encore, instead choosing to play on through and fit in as many songs as possible. Closing the evening with the epic 7-minuter “Pink Snow”, The Cribs show no signs of slowing down, sounding as vital as ever and comfortably standing as probably the most popular cult band in Britain of the last decade.

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