The Cribs – Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever


“C’mon, pretend we’re from Wakefield” implores Thom Edward, God Damn‘s persuasive frontman, referencing the hometown of tonight’s headliners to the thin early evening throng, who despite their modest numbers, are entirely in his thrall.

He and his two bandmates are full-blooded performers, infected with limitless gusto, but the music is perfunctory. Despite occasionally homing in on a riff which would make Pulled Apart By Horses arch an eyebrow, these moments are few and far between. An entertaining watch, if not listen.

Bergen-based quartet Sløtface look far too healthy for this rock & roll malarkey, and have presumably come directly to the venue from a pampering session at a spa, such is the glow from their radiant Nordic cheeks.

Sadly, their charming pop/rock is engulfed by a chronic sound which makes Haley Shea’s vocals all but vanish in the sludgy stromash.

They keep plugging away, though, and by the time irresistible old favourite ‘Angst’ is rolled out towards the end of their 10 song set, the rapidly filling Academy has largely been won over despite the sonic sabotage.

The Cribs are here to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their seminal Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever album by playing it from top to bottom. It may not have ultimately had the commercial impact of (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? or the contemporaneous Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, but for the discerning musical disciple, the Jarman brothers’ magnum opus tops the lot. It’s not even close.

Men’s Needs… is the fulfilment of the promise shown on their first two albums, both decent in their own right of course, but nowhere near a classic like this. Two expectant glitter balls revolve above the stage as the trio take their positions, with Ross sat gamely aloft a drum riser which practically needs a fire ladder to clamber onto.

‘Our Bovine Public’ busts forth without a word of introduction, with Ryan in his customary leather jacket somehow managing to contort his back to the audience while still facing them. Part man, part owl.

‘Girls Love Mystery’ sees the band almost entirely drowned out by a baying crowd in full flow and lung, with more “woah-oh-oh”’s packed into 3 minutes than the entire musical output of Bon Jovi and One Direction combined.

A man in a Metallica ‘Ride The Lightning’ 1984 tour t-shit (3 shows in Finland, but just the one in the UK on that occasion) is among the surge towards the barrier for the (almost) title track, with Gary’s insistent basslines leading into the lesser-spotted ‘Moving Pictures’ and ‘I’m A Realist’ to conclude the greatest opening salvo you’re ever likely to hear.

For a band so reliant on the busy hooks at the top end of Ryan’s guitar, the unsolved muddy sound strips away much of The Cribs’ subtlety, not that it’s stopping a succession of lads who are so overcome with emotion that they swirl the remnants of their pints fifteen feet into the air in lieu of tears of joy.

Skip forward to ‘Be Safe’, the Greatest Song Ever Written, a rare gem which is suitable for first dances and final farewells, and should be played at both without fail. Lee Ranaldo’s disembodied head is projected onto the backdrop, benevolently mouthing his poem while the gathered masses bellow, “I know a place we can go/where you’ll fall in love so hard/you’ll wish you were dead”.

Ross rises from behind his kit to acclaim us and it’s almost too much. Stiff upper lip and all that, that’s the spirit.

It should’ve ended the album, really, and as enjoyable as ‘Ancient History’ and the plaintive closer, ‘Shoot The Poets’ are, we’re toast.

The extended encore is a hodge-podge of odds ‘n’ sods kicked off by non-album track single, ‘Don’t You Wanna Be Relevant?’, before swooping between b-sides, ‘Another Number”s nagging der-dee-der-der der-de-der, and the magnificent ‘Mirror Kissers’ to see us into the soggy night.

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