The Cribs, The Thin Kids @ The Zoo, Brisbane (16/02/2010)

On a night with one true legend on show, it seemed fitting that music critic Everett True’s The Legend! opened proceedings. With a couple of timely jibes at Andrew Stockdale and his recent comments about Brisbane being a creativity void, The Legend! bemused and confused with his repetitive, almost poetic spoken word delivery.

A couple of tall tales soon gave way to actual music as he introduced new band mates Edward Guglielmino and Margaret Collins, who form half of the debut quartet The Thin Kids (along with The Gin Club’s Scotty Regan, who was absent until the very end). Their unrehearsed nature ensured the band was quite difficult to take as anything other than just a complete piss-take band, but that was not a bad thing. The punk-rock ethos of Welcome To Brisbane and Listening To Flipper On The Car Stereo sunk into the ear holes as pleasant tunes, but the chaotic inventive invectives in You’re Not On The Guest List truly cut through – so much so that it was played not only within the set proper, but as the closer along with the main act’s Gary Jarman assisting with the screamed jibes.

Unlike many bands of their ilk, there’s absolutely no hiding The Cribs roots and influences. One of their most obvious influences occupies a quarter of their stage and royalty cheques these days – fully fledged legend The Smiths’ Johnny Marr. On stage he introduces the West Yorkshire lads – twins Gary and Ryan and their younger brother Ross Jarman with signature angular guitar licks for newie We Were Aborted, abutted immediately with signature tune Hey Scenesters! from 2005’s New Fellas. It’s a curious thing to see – an aging indie scenester nonchalantly sharing the stage with a trio of look-alike anti-indie post-punk kids clearly in the ‘now’. It shouldn’t make sense, and it should be a lot more of a novelty that it really is when you see the four of them gel on a tight groove.

The band’s sound has clearly come of age in recent years, but it’s hard to say if Marr’s addition was causal or incidental in that development. Their first Brisbane live venture had Marr occupying much the same stage and sonic presence which he has etched as his own brand over the years. He adds interesting flourishes to tunes from earlier albums such as the stark Moving Pictures and sparse I’ve Tried Everything from 2007s Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever. He contributes layers to the power-chord guitar pop of newer tunes like We Share The Same Skies and Hari Kari, allowing Ryan to spend the time intently stabbing his guitar and almost impaling himself on his half-height mic-stand. More importantly, he seems to add a stylistic connection between what The Smiths were at their height – cinematic, seminal and genre-defining, to what The Cribs are attempting now.

An almost workman-like set list saw current hits rate early, including the melodic ballad Last Year’s Snow, and the soaring post-punk standard Cheat On Me. Hardly a word is spoken to the mostly English ex-pat crowd, as both band and audience warmed into the humid surrounds. Bassist Gary appeared to struggle with some of the stretched vocal requirements earlier on, while Ross seemed to find it hard to stay seated on the drum stool, often ending songs in the standing position, pounding the kick, snare and crash cymbals with all his body weight.

As the energy-sapping set drew to a close, Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo appeared on a projection for his spoken work piece on Be Safe, while Gary continued the current trend of refusing encores by announcing that City Of Bugs would be the last song, bar none. An abrupt end to a rather fitting Brisbane introduction to what indie, post-punk really means.