The Cribs plus Giant Drag and Jeffrey Lewis - Queen's Hall @ Edinburgh

Great for a one-night stand, but hard to fall in love with

Article by Iain Radcliffe | 17 Mar 2006
With a varied bill at the Queen's Hall, a couple of American avant-garde support acts compensate for The Cribs' meat 'n' potatoes solidity.
Jeffrey Lewis (3 Skinnys) and his partner play half their set acoustically, and half accompanied by a squally indie recording. A pity, because a full band would make for a more arresting spectacle, as some sections of the crowd chatter throughout their witty, consciously intellectual set. Highlights are a synopsis of the Origins of Communism showcasing Jeffrey's cartoons, and a closer with a spoken-word intro like a preacher's benediction on speed, which collapses into a brief, electric racket.

Giant Drag (4 Skinnys) are another duo playing as a full-on rock outfit, with drummer Micah Calabrese employing the jaw-dropping technique of using his snare hand to trigger keyboard basslines on every other beat. Singer Annie's sexy delivery is reminiscent of Kim Deal and PJ Harvey on the scuzzy, bluesy stomps, but she can also evoke wistfulness on the enchanting quieter numbers, which include an inspired cover of Chris Isaac's Wicked Game.

Of course, the crowd's enthusiasm is reserved for The Cribs (3 Skinnys), who can do no wrong in the eyes of the devoted fans who make up a raucous mosh-pit. Set opener Mirror Kisses is blasted out with impassioned intent as the frenzied first ten rows shower each other with beer. Throughout the set, The Cribs are most successful when dispatching their most direct, visceral songs – Martell, Hey Scenesters!, I'm Alright Me. Elsewhere, they repeat their tricks a few too many times, when the twin shouty vocal attack of Ryan and Gary in weaker choruses becomes rather hectoring, and Ross standing on his drum stool several times (yes okay, sit down now) becomes an exercise in misdirection. As Valentines, The Cribs offer thrills and excitement in the moment, but the hour-long set exposes their more flaccid tunes among the priapic gems – great for a one-night stand, but hard to fall in love with. [Iain Radcliffe]