Relationships between artists and money are strange and varied: Nickleback signing a deal worth north of $50 million to make three more albums – not fair. 30 Seconds To Mars claiming that they’ve never seen a penny from EMI – pretty fair. Phil Collins having to pay a £25m divorce settlement – so fair you don’t want to leave it out in the sun in case it burns to a crisp. The Cribs claiming to have no cash – definitely not fair.
And it’s not like we’re talking about a lot of money. You don’t get the impression that The Cribs are thinking in terms of gold plated tour buses stocked with Methuselah’s of champagne being poured into platinum goblets. Just enough to mean that they don’t have to buy shirts from H&M, accept clothing gifts from crowds and keep Johnny Marr in whatever it is Johnny Marr wants.
They deserve that much at least. Because, frankly, The Cribs are a national treasure. Particularly now they’ve fully assimilated Marr into the ranks. At a couple of the shows this year it couldn’t help but feel that he was only there for novelty value, but now, he’s a fully integrated part of the Jarman clan.
No longer The Cribs featuring Johnny Marr, it’s just The Cribs, and you can’t spot where the Jarman ends and the Marr-man begins. What you can feel is the added weight and bite he gives some of the tricksier guitar lines.
It’s billed as a warm up gig for their performances at Leeds and Reading, but given that they’ve spent the entire summer carting round festivals all over Europe it’s hard to see how they couldn’t have been pretty well-stretched already. Still, it’s been a while since they’ve played somewhere as cramped as this and for the 600 or so people crammed in tonight there was a celebratory feel in the air.
But then again, when is there not at a Cribs gig. The usual opening one-two-three of Our Bovine Public, Hey Scenesters! and Don’t You Wanna Be Relevant? might be as predictable a triumvirate as could have been expected, but when you’ve got songs that ace you don’t really need surprises.
Which is good, because as aside from the unfinished, untitled new one deposited three-quarters of the way through proceedings there weren’t any. But it doesn’t matter, because what we did were the best bits of Men’s Needs, Woman’s Needs… Whatever and The New Fellas delivered with unstoppable gusto and immense charm.