Nearly halfway through the first month of the year, and it’s the real ‘Dry January’. I’m not talking about alcohol. With the dregs of Aunt Sally’s bottle of sherry that she forgot to take home still sitting on the shelf, it’s the lack of gigs at this time of year that is more painful. Thank goodness then for those fabulous Jarman brothers. At the first Concorde 2 show of 2018, a fervent Brighton crowd were reminded just why The Cribs are firmly regarded amongst the finest British indie-rock bands of this, or any other, generation. Last year’s superb 24-7 Rock Star Shit was another superb addition to an ever-growing collection of exceptional anthems from the guys who triple-handedly put Wakefield on the punk-rock map.
With both support bands also being three-pieces, it seemed that De La Soul had it right all along. First up were Glaswegian indie-rockers Paws, signed to Brighton’s FatCat Records (declaring it as “Their second home”). Their early slot meant that they suffered from the familiar fate of performing to a half-empty room, and it took a little while to fully connect with an initially reserved crowd. The one-two finale of ‘Sore Tummy’ (punchier live than the lo-fi recorded version) and ‘No Grace’ finally broke through however, and earned a few pogos in the crowd. Following them, Dublin’s Fangclub instantly brought a heavier vibe to the evening with an eye-opening set of tight, infectious grunge anthems-in-waiting. ‘Best Fake Friends’ and ‘Bad Words’ in particular prompted pints and arms alike to be held aloft, and ‘Riff Of Riffs’ rounded off a highly promising set. Fangclub look to be a special band to watch out for.
As the lights dropped, revealing a twinkly backdrop to the stage and jaunty theme tune music played, Concorde 2 was transformed into the latest episode of ‘The Jarmans’. A band that seem to have been around forever due to the rapid speed of album releases, it was only in 2004 that the three brothers (Gary on bass/vocals, Ryan on guitar/vocals and Ross on drums) first appeared with their self-titled debut. Since then, they have continued to operate on their own terms and can boast one of the most passionate fanbases this side of the Gallaghers. Bursting onto the stage with an explosion of energy, Ryan and Gary swapped throughout from side-to-side as they began with ‘Our Bovine Public’, ‘Come On Be A No-One’ and ‘Men’s Needs’ in a thrillingly fast-paced opening. The tempo hardly slowed all night, the floor flexing underneath the crowd as Ryan frantically bounced up onto the amps or leaned into the front row. He takes a unique approach to being a frontman, at times positioning the mic to sing side on or even with his back to the crowd – however, with twin Gary sharing the vocals there is always a focal point for the crowd to latch on to.
Material from 24-7 Rock Star Shit fitted effortlessly into a set list packed with indie disco classics. ‘Rainbow Ridge’ sounded like a lost In Utero track while ‘Sticks Not Twigs’ was gorgeous, twin mirrorballs on stage sending lights floating around the room. Each one of their albums was touched on, though the biggest audience roars were reserved for anything from The New Fellas and Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever. In all, the guys raced through 21 songs in a little over 70 minutes with only a short mid-gig acoustic section breaking up the frenetic pace. An exceptional crowd fully played their part, egging on the band with mass singalongs to ‘Mirror Kissers’ and even the opening riff to ‘Another Number’ brought an impromptu audience version.
By the time the show reached its finale, Ryan was on his knees as Ross slumped over his drums – both clearly exhausted. With one last push, they blasted through ‘Hey Scenesters!’ and ‘Broken Arrow’, bringing mass moshes to the room once more. You really couldn’t have picked a better act to kick down the doors of 2018’s Dry January than The Cribs – a true band of the people who don’t know how to put on a bad show. A superb night, one that again only left everyone waiting for the next move from this band of brothers.