Coming over two years since their last album and tour, The Cribs’ lockdown version of their hallowed track Be Safe is even more poignant. As a band adverse to any form of inactivity or hiatus, their hefty break, alongside the indeterminable claustrophobia of the lockdown blues themselves, meant fans were clamouring.
The band have often cynically dismissed their live attempts at the song, with the difficulties presented by Lee Ranaldo’s spoken word piece integrating into a live setting; even saying during their 2007 Men’s Needs… album gig (where the track was debuted live), “…we probably won’t play it live again.” It is therefore slightly ironic that this version sits among their best (an onstage performance with Ranaldo himself being a close contender), given they were “separated by thousands of miles!)”, rather than sharing a stage. It is perhaps this factor which gives this song even more gravity than previously. Ranaldo’s words attack the petty grievances of the modern world, seamlessly fitting an inherently anti-establishment/anti-music industry band, ringing even truer now. Long-time Cribs art collaborator Nick Scott edits the video, with the band manifesting themselves individually via a burst of monochrome static, illustrating the stark reality of theirs and the society’s isolation. This also adds further mystique to the already dystopian tone of the track, with their solemn and desolate settings, especially that of Ranaldo.
Ranaldo recites the words with even more vigour, tosses of lyric sheets adding a dash of welcome theatrics. Guitarist Jen Turner also joins the performance alongside Ryan Jarman, but perhaps the greatest addition is the double drumming of the youngest Jarman; who veritably steals the show.
For the most avid of Cribs fans, bassist Gary Jarman re-enacts the monologue his brother so sardonically and nonchalantly gave on the original (“that wasn’t my best one, but who cares right?”). This, however, may be their best.