Review: The Cribs @ First Direct Arena, Leeds

It takes something truly special in a record to inspire the kind of earnest adoration that fills up an arena a decade after the songs were released. Approaching Leeds First Direct Arena on Saturday, you can practically see the wave of excitement grow. From the steady increase in matching band t-shirts to the groups of friends chanting guitar riffs in the street, the devotion is apparent before you even make it through the venue doors. This is what The Cribs do best, and it’s never been more apparent than with the ten-year celebration of ‘Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever’. Whether it’s the first, fifteenth, or fiftieth time seeing the band play, the response is always the same: a sincere expression of enthusiasm for songs that resound with as much keenly felt emotion now as the moment you first tuned into them.

The instant the opening riff of ‘Our Bovine Public’ kicks in, the energy in the room hits fever pitch. Sure, those near the front might spend much of the next hour and a half trying to figure out where they put their feet in the clamour, but surrounded by people all screaming along to the album that cemented the band in hearts and minds as indie rock darlings, there’s little else that seems to matter. Chants of “YORKSHIRE!” rise and fall, circle pits open and close, crowd surfers soar and drop, and the audience hold each other on their feet as they all indulge in the excitement of the moment.

On stage, the Jarmans are on ferociously top form. Playing by the rules for once, with a set list mostly pre-ordained by the occasion, the group throw themselves into their performance with characteristically reckless abandon. Cribs shows have never been about finesse, but feeling – and this is something that scales to staggering heights when Lee Ranaldo steps onto the stage for ‘Be Safe’. As he reads his monologue off a sheet of paper and the Jarmans lead their colossal chorus chants (their first time performing the song live together in the UK), it’s a moment that finds a home among the heartstrings of everyone present.

Of course, the excitement doesn’t end with just one album. Performing a series of rare cuts and celebrated anthems from all across their career, the devotion demonstrated for ‘Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever’ over the course of tonight is one The Cribs continuously inspire with everything they do. Ending with the euphoric ‘Pink Snow’, chants of “I’ll try and be brave for you” flood the venue as pink confetti fills the air. Tonight isn’t just about one album. Tonight is about everything that led to here. A celebration in appreciation of every ounce of adoration that’s come their way, what’s showcased here tonight is an energy that feels sure to last forever.


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