Tuesday, 8 December 2009
THE CRIBS at BRIXTON ACADEMY
Adding Johnny Marr to The Cribs line-up didn’t make huge sense in the beginning. His first gigs had him busking rather than adding, but he’s all over Ignore The Ignorant and now has woven his magic into their older songs, throwing his instantly recognisable flourishes into the abrasive commotion of the three Jarman brothers . Whilst the Jarmans launch themselves into every song as if it’s their last – sometimes literally into the crowd - Marr brings some understated style to proceedings: well dressed, legs slightly apart, guitar held at just the correct angle and height, a flick of the wrist, a slight tilt of the head, and a haircut to die for. All important stuff which hasn’t yet rubbed off on Ryan, who stubbornly wears the mum-cut-around-the-pudding-bowl hair “style” which would have caused instant playground bullying when I were a lad.
It’s not all dandy though. Ignore The Ignorant is at best an indifferent album and they play a sizeable chunk of it tonight. The Cribs are at their most striking when they’re full of boisterous bile, mixing punk playing with brusque terrace chants and hooks. If they can fit a “whooah” into a song they will. If they can’t, they’ll make another word sound like a “whooah”. It’s a simple yet effective trick. Many of the newer songs have fluidity but none of the urgency. They’re improved by the live setting but whereas you could hit shuffle on The New Fellas or Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever and be guaranteed a great, the odds are significantly longer on the new album.
However, let’s not be too grumpy because it’s still a set bursting with rollicking highlights: “I’m A Realist”, “Hey Scenesters!”, “Our Bovine Public”, “Mirror Kissers”, “The Wrong Way To Be”, “Men’s Needs” etc from the back catalogue plus “We Share The Same Skies” and “We Were Aborted” the stand out two from the newie. It’s curious the Jam-like “Victim of Mass Production” didn’t make it but this is tempered by the inclusion of “Direction”, which is transformed from filler material from their 2004 debut into a savage beast of a song that rattles the walls and shivers the bones.