On a brisk evening in Sheffield two of Yorkshire’s finest under the radar bands met at the O2 Academy. Traditional chants of “Yorkshire, Yorkshire” greet Leeds’ Pulled Apart By Horses to the stage. Material coming predominantly from latest album Blood, the riff-heavy belters rip through the crowd, which tonight consists mainly of undergraduates and lad orientated groups. Vocalist Tom Hudson states that tonight is “the last night of the tour for us and Sheffield, you have been the best crowd by far.” Bantering with the Northern crowd and mentioning that they’re from Leeds gave an atmosphere similar to Elland Road as a chorus of “Leeds Leeds Leeds” fills the room. PABH are reminiscent of Queens Of The Stone Age in their new tune Hot Squash, Hudson’s vocals with added reverb sound like a Northern Josh Homme – a compliment to the ever maturing sound of the band. The set is fast-paced, however the band seem to be lacking in the chaos that was seen when they first came to everyone’s attention in 2009/10. This however could be a further doff to the cap of development of the band and how they don’t need to make as much of a scene to capture attention from crowds anymore. Final song High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive sounds huge and brings along the first of many mosh pits of the evening. The simple three-line song is a perfect end to the bands set and the aforementioned chaos that wasn’t seen in the newer songs is restored with this one live. Guitarist James Brown climbs the speakers during the bridge and looks like a man possessed as he jumps down onto the stage. Pulverising screams and chugging basslines in the final chorus warms the crowd up nicely for The Cribs.
Between bands, classic tunes like Wig Wam Bam and Toy Soldiers plays through the speakers, a playlist clearly chosen by tonight’s headliners.
Beginning the set with Ancient History from 2007’s Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs Whatever. The Cribs are super lively and immediately have great chemistry with the audience. The first crowd surfers of the night are seen during second song I’m A Realist. Seeing this, guitarist Ryan Jarman addresses the crowd as “crazy mofos” and the band move seamlessly into new single Different Angle. The track is received as if it has been an anthem for the last decade and the pace is still strong when they drop Come On Be A No-One from 2013’s In The Belly Of A Brazen Bull. Matching the audiences’ rowdiness, drummer Ross launches a drink into the crowd and Ryan invites his adoring fans to sing over the speakers as the microphone disappears into the sea of Freshers. Finally Free and We Were Aborted soar, both tracks sounding huge with mass singalongs.
Women’s Needs is played for the first time in years; unfortunately, it is not as well received as the newer tunes. The track is, however, lapped up by the hardcore fan-base which is a real treat. Contrasting massively to Women’s Needs, the band shoot straight into Another Number. The riff had already echoed around the 2350 capacity venue prior to the bands’ entrance to the stage. The song is an indie anthem, definitely the band’s biggest song of the night so far. The vocals in the song switch between the Jarman twins and they seem to harmonise perfectly together even with their distinctive Wakefield/American infused accents. For All My Sisters album track Mr Wrong fits well in the set as does You’re Gonna Lose Us – a standalone single from 2005. Moving Pictures passes by with more singalongs and the crowd get even more erratic during Hey Scenesters! Chants of “Wakefield, Wakefield” sweep around the room – The Cribs never shying away from their Northern roots. Summer of Chances is sweet, there are some imperfect vocals but with The Cribs it just doesn’t seem to matter, it all adds to the charm of the band.
Distorted riffing and a darkened stage turn the audience’s attention to the screens either side as poet Lee Ranaldo appears for 2007’s Be Safe. The spoken word poetry over the simple chorus is purely stunning and the lyrical content is profound. The band take a backseat role in this song because of the lack of lighting on the stage but they somehow still seem to have the charisma to carry the song. I See Your Pictures Everyday is then played, B-side to Burning For No-One to a muted response, an odd choice for the band but probably a massive luxury for the die-hard fans. A-side to this, Burning For No-One then refocuses the room and the speed of the evening increases when Our Bovine Public drops. It’s clear to see that the band thrive off the energy of the crowd as more mosh pits open and crowd surfers are in abundance. Shoot The Poets is a time for contemplation, Ryan politely asks if they can “slow it down a little and play something acoustic” to rapturous applause. The Sheffield chorus drowns Ryan out during the whole thing and even begin to sing the guitar solo. The tenderness of the moment is then abolished by Mirror Kissers, which is the track everyone has been waiting for. Drummer Ross, usually shadowed in the back, stands atop his drum kit, which for this tour has “The Jarmans” laced across it in the same font logo as the classic Beatles symbol. The rousing melody, pulsating drums and distorted screeching make the South Yorkshire folk loopy, the band clearly displaying their adoration for grunge in this piece.
Absolute hysteria breaks out when the band finally play Men’s Needs. There isn’t a person in the room not screaming along to the catchy lyrics and during the solo Ryan kneels down front and centre of the stage to be closer to and feel the dynamism of the mob camped at the barrier. The band aren’t one to chat much whilst onstage but during their thank you’s they mention that tonight has been “fucking awesome” and in keeping with Cribs tradition, they end with a longer song. This evening, Pink Snow from their latest album has been chosen to round off proceedings. The whole stage is a spectacle, the glitter ball hanging from the roof of the O2 shines through bright magenta lighting (fitting for the track’s title). Fuzzy guitars and thunderous drums fill the room; this show couldn’t have ended any bigger. Before leaving the stage, Ryan trashes his guitar, showing how true 21st Century punk they are.
The Cribs are still Britain’s biggest unknown band and they’re okay with that. Both bands tonight are rarely played on mainstream radio and tend to go unnoticed, for those in the company of the pair this evening were very, very lucky indeed.