Normally when an act embarks on an anniversary tour of a particular album, it is for one of two reasons: either that release is a truly exceptional work, or it seems pretty good when compared to the rest of their less accomplished back-catalogue. In the case of The Cribs and their third album "Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever", one of the finest outputs of the mid-2000s indie renaissance period, the former is very much true. With a career-spanning showcase focussed around their seminal work, Wakefield's finest displayed with a touch of nostalgia that they are still one of the best in the business.
Brighton based three-piece Demob Happy opened, looking like the cast of iconic 90s film 'Dazed and Confused', an apt representation of their muddled set. Oscillating between the murky grunge of their stellar 2015 debut "Dream Soda" and the Muse-esque arena rock sound of their new material, they still managed to warm up the crowd, despite sounding like two completely different bands.
Main support came from hotly-tipped Norwegian punk band Sløtface, combining sharp riffs with lead singer Haley Shea's captivatingly unique vocals and abstract lyrics, namely: 'I'd never shave my head for you.' Having left the crowd intrigued, stirred and eager for more, it is apparent that Sløtface have the potential for big things in the years to come.
When the main event arrived, it proved to be a colossally euphoric explosion of energy and emotion from both band and audience. First playing "MNWNW" in full, a joyous word for word sing-along ensued, with significant hits "Men's Needs" and "I'm a Realist" particularly memorable. The set also provided the opportunity to see some rarely performed gems, with "I've Tried Everything" and "Ancient History" highlighting just how abundant the album is in phenomenal songs. The stand out song, as ever, was "Be Safe", during which a video of Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo is projected upon stage, preaching about the ills of the world as Gary Jarman and the crowd repeated the titular lyric. The album was rounded off suitably with the acoustic "Shoot the Poets", emphasising both the strength of Ryan Jarman's vocals and the emotional capacity of the band's work.
Following this triumphant parade, the Jarman brothers launched immediately into a procession of their greatest hits from all their albums, starting with standalone single "Don't You Wanna be Relevant", their first release after "MNWNW." This was an urgent and direct reminder from the band that they do not solely want to be recognised for this album and that their entire collection is indeed not only relevant but outstanding. Charging through fan-favourites "Come On, Be a No-One", "Another Number" and "Mirror Kissers" to rapturous moshing from the crowd, the band typically closed out their incredible set with seven minute epic "Pink Snow", the final track from most recent release "For All My Sisters." With its fluctuation between atmospherically isolated chords and chaotic instrumental collisions, most Cribs fans will agree that this really is the perfect song to end any gig.
What was most striking about the whole performance was how much it meant to everybody there. It is evident that for Ryan, Gary and Ross Jarman, "MNWNW" is far more than just an album, rather a definition of their love of music. Indeed, for everyone who was in attendance, the album holds some kind of special significance and still seems as monumental as the first time that it was heard. To me, it is and will always be one of my favourite albums and sharing such a feeling with a couple of thousand people last night encapsulates everything that is brilliant about The Cribs.
Listen to Man's Needs
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