It’s raining in Portsmouth the day The Cribs come to town. Tucked away in the decidedly un-rock’n’roll surroundings of Southsea, the Wedgewood Rooms is a marked step down from the academies and 3000+ capacities we’re used to seeing pop’s biggest weirdos in; a rare chance to reconnect with fans before the release of sixth album For All My Sisters.
Despite the inclement weather pissing all over any traces of Valentine’s induced romance, the atmosphere amongst the crowd – mostly comprising older muso types and pilled-up sixteen year olds – is one of fervent anticipation. Kicking off with a taut ‘Mirror Kissers’, the brothers waste no time whipping the assembled horde into chaos, with teaser track ‘An Ivory Hand’ and In The Belly of The Brazen Bull’s ‘Come On, Be a No-One’ receiving the kind of triumphant reception normally reserved for football stadiums and 2am Domino’s deliveries. “You guys are a different breed” grins guitarist Ryan, swigging back a beer before pogoing through fan favourites ‘Our Bovine Public’ and ‘Martell’.
A total of seven new songs are aired tonight; the aforementioned ‘An Ivory Hand’, new album lead single ‘Burning for No One’ and an array of unheard album tracks. While all are as graciously received as old skool fare such as ‘Another Number’, it’s the effervescent ‘Pink Snow’ that stands apart from the rest. A gorgeous anthem of self-effacement and empathy wrapped in delicate guitarwork, “To all my sisters, I promise you this/that I’ll try and be brave for you” is perhaps the most succinct distillation of The Cribs’ ethos to date.
Not all forays into the new material are as successful, however. A song setlist.fm lists as ‘Mr. Wrong’ gets into all of three seconds before a few moments of clanging, head scratching and muttered curses give way to the more familiar territory of Breakout Hit Proper ‘Hey Scenesters!’. Unsurprisingly the teething problems are quickly forgiven, and by the time ‘Men’s Needs’ winds down into brooding closer ‘City of Bugs’, The Cribs have proven once again to be masters of their craft.