Lee's Palace, Toronto ON April 11
Outlasting a laundry list of artier peers -- many that only mid-aughts NME devotees will remember -- Brit-guitar survivors, the Cribs are about to drop their fifth album. Given the typically short lifespan of Libertines-era acts, that's a notable achievement that speaks to the trio's blue-collar work ethic. Unsurprisingly, the brothers Jarman (frontmen Ryan and Gary and drummer Ross) brought a balls-out, if not particularly nuanced, approach to their Lee's Palace show. That and a Chixdiggit reference.
Down one Johnny Marr and up one Johnny Ramone haircut, guitarist Ryan has more heavy lifting to do than he used to, and his fretboard work effectively moved between willfully shambolic ("We Were Aborted) and incisive ("Chi-Town"). As with any Cribs gig, he provided a slightly volatile centerpiece, goading the crowd into light moshing, losing control of his trousers, and pushing his vocals to the limit.
With their aforementioned longevity, a little nostalgia could be expected, but the Cribs were more interested in North American punk and alternative than post-Strokes guitar pop. Thus, the Replacements and the Ramones were common touchstones.
New cuts fared well, despite the general Wednesday-night malaise. Post-emo indie rocker "Anna" benefitted from Ryan's playful guitar tone and "Come On, Be a No-One" sprinted in all the right places. Longtime staple "Hey Scenesters!" is still a euphoric, fist-pumping crowd-pleaser, and it featured the best vocal interplay of the night. The similarly buoyant "Men's Needs" and a by-request take on "The Lights Went Out" had the easiest hooks of the night.
Better blistering than plodding, the dirge-y "Cheat On Me" and the cumbersome "Be Safe" fell flat, whereas "I'm a Realist" scored thanks to militaristic percussion and Ryan's neck-stretching commitment.
Packing high energy with a decent dose of bravado and a heavy helping of Yorkshire accents, it was a fast, fun and largely engaging show from a cohesive and charismatic act.
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