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The Cribs still inspiring – Cambridge Junction review

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The Cribs are still inspiring raw music enthusiasts with new album 24-7 Rock Star Shit, even after years indie megatrondom. Not least by providing an excellent occasion for a good ol’ fashioned jolly at the Junction.

PAWS came all the way from Glasgow to get us toasty for it. At early doors, their warmth and talent turned what was a slim group of millers hiding in the shadows into a compacted pit of punk. Stirring up pep the proportions of a fiery DIY garage party with bright and punchy songs, they were authentic, furious, intelligent and fun. The town certainly seemed glad they “Came-bridge”. (I stole this from one of their onstage quips. Good one that.)

A second band, YONAKA, filled the now ripe anticipation for the main act. A major light show accompanied pop structures and loud guitars while vocalist Theresa Jarvis commanded a powerful delivery of voice and presence.

But make way for The Cribs already! It’s been 7 years since they last came to Cambridge. (Or “Came-bridged”. Sorry. Blame PAWS.) When greeting us, bassist Gary expressed the band’s sincere and well-meant intent to book the city themselves, for their continuing ideal of bringing their sound to everyday UK. We do appreciate it guys. Screw going to London on a weekday.

A starry backdrop lit slowly, only to suddenly glitter into immediate and fast paced opener, ‘Our Bovine Public’. The cadence was in place for an awesome set sprinkled with canonical singles and edgy noise. They made expert use of their rich career spanning many banger filled albums. They had waves of fans, new, old and in between, all singing along to songs with very little effort.

Being large-scale radio friendly, their live presence is significant to their true identity. In person, they bring out the raw realness of ostensibly happy hits like ‘Leather Jacket Love Song’ and ‘Come On, Be A No One’. Crowd pleasing while validating their seasoned authority, they played heavy rotators like ‘Mirror Kissers’ and ‘I’m A Realist’ casually alongside lower fidelity discords like ‘Direction’. The whole performance nailed that balance.

There were so many highlights. ‘Another Number’ with its high pitched and off-kilter riff, long destined for shout along chanting; and new single ‘Rainbow Ridge’, chock full of their signature, sardonic fun.

To mention a particular personal favourite, ‘Be Safe’ was a nice memory jogger. Having not heard it in a while, when the movie-screened, spoken word soliloquy (by one of many illustrious collaborators, Lee Ranaldo) suddenly dominated the backdrop stridently escorted by poignant and cacophonous balladry, it genuinely hit my feels.

With an outwardly lethargic but intense energy, this was The Cribs in fine, classic form. Ryan, with his almost mythological charismatics in the flesh (bare yet loosely clad in the coolest leather shirt), went from slurring wild-eyed mania to sloping overwhelmingly on his stalwart brother Gary, who matched all Ryan’s sentiments in his own ever cool way. And whenever Ross harked the convention of standing on his stool to get that extra bash from his drums, their elemental and longstanding force simply rung out. Just like how it did when I saw them over a decade ago at the Astoria (RIP), among many other times.

Curating their setlist through ranges of tempo and style they could break down acoustically and rip up frantically, with offerings from their new album complementing it all perfectly. It’s not surprising that they’ve been able to so naturally progress their sound with the legendary Steve Albini. Truly though, the only people that The Cribs need in order to stay so consistently good, are The Jarmans. Would absolutely wait another 7 years to see them again with the confidence that it’d be just as good. But let’s hope it’s sooner!

Gallery here.

Words from Ellie Clarke
Image from Rich Etteridge