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The Cribs – Glasgow Barrowlands

Jarman and MarrIf you have never had the good fortune to attend a gig at Glasgow’s venerable old ballroom, you won’t fully appreciate what an experience it can be. Firstly, there’s the location. You wander through an area which compares unfavourably with downtown Basra to reach it. On arrival, you pass bars they appear to have modelled the Cantina on, except there is a higher teeth-per-patron ratio in Mos Eisley. The locals are a curious mix of skin disease and alcoholism, and while friendly, are best avoided.

The place itself smells of fried food and spilled booze, and that’s not a criticism. There are tour posters on the walls from the last two decades. The décor hasn’t changed in the twenty years I’ve been attending gigs here and, if it did, you’d see people take to the streets in protest. The Barrowlands, when it gets raucous is simply an astonishing venue. And, thankfully, tonight it does kick off.

The Cribs now have Johnny Marr on guitar for them, playing more that electric-shards-of-noise style he coloured Modest Mouse’s last album in than his jangly Smiths virtuosity. This is a good thing; it beefs up the bands sound, which was pitifully miniscule the last time they played here. As a gig, it can only really be a good Cribs show or a bad Cribs show, because the one thing it will unequivocally be is a Cribs show. The Cribs are a one-trick pony. It’s thunderous guitars and shouty choruses (generally involving a ‘woah-oh-oh-oh’ bit.) They make no apologies for it.

Ryan Jarman is, thankfully, sober. The band are as tight as two coats of paint and the set draws mostly from new album ‘Ignore the Ignorant’ with a smattering of favourites from previous albums. Recent single ‘Cheat on Me’ reveals itself as a barnstormer, whilst ‘Hey Scenesters!’ cynical sneer sounds enthralling in front of the crowd who are going drunkenly potty. Teenage girls are being thrown about in delirious abandon by hammered boyfriends and, in one case, skillessly if enthusiastically poked on the dancefloor. The older crowd, here primarily for Marr, stand by the side of the pit and look on in amusement.

The Cribs are never going to turn up any trees in a quest for originality, but they do what they do well, and they are a band who connect with an audience. As one readies oneself for the walk back through the East End to civilization, it’s been worth the trip.

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11 Responses

  1. As an aside…..it has been some weeks now since you have launched an attack on Glasvegas. Is something wrong at ELM HQ?

  2. Reminds me of a conversation between Billy Bragg and Simon Munnery’s wonderful Alan Parker Urban Warrior in 1993;

    Alan – Billy, why don’t you write songs about Thatcher anymore?
    BB – She’s not Prime Minister anmore Alan.
    Alan – She’s still Thatcher.

  3. Jeffrey Lewis most skillfully, and with no malice intended, summed up the cribs back catalogue in 3 chords. As he said, that’s not a criticism.

  4. No, they do what they do and they do it well, fair play to them.

  5. Glasvegas are cunts. How’s that, Bert ?

  6. Two things:

    1. A great description of the Barras.

    2. Does “skillessly if enthusiastically poked on the dancefloor” mean what I think it means?

    😀

  7. Haha sounds like my Cribs experience at Leamington Assembly!

  8. Seems there’s no North/South divide when it comes to Cribs fans then! 🙂

  9. Seems not! Cribs gigs always result in the same outcome!

  10. Yep, spilled lager and drunken people!

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