New Musical Express Awards highlights the hype

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The Cribs

Letters from Leeds is a feature by Gazette writer Gennelle Smith, who is currently on exchange in England and will be dispatching articles about the local music scene to Canada.

Shockwaves New Musical Express (NME) Awards Tour 2008 featuring the Cribs; Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong; Does It Offend You, Yeah?; and the Ting Tings
Feb. 8-9 @ the Refectory

LEEDS, UK " The Refec was crammed to capacity with chanting fans, the pints were plentiful and a sense of optimism was in the air: the 2008 New Musical Express Awards Tour landed in Leeds on the weekend and four wildly different up-and-coming bands were in the building to justify the hype.

First up was indie electronic duo the Ting Tings, which filled the coveted opening slot with a mix of driving guitar riffs and impassioned beats. Singer Katie White was magnetic, both yelling and singing pretty melodies. The band’s electronic backup gave its songs a depth not expected from a twosome.

Next up was Reading indie outfit Does It Offend You, Yeah?; its bright entrance and cheerful performance endeared it instantly to the crowd. Lead singer Morgan Quaintance used his considerable charm and huge smile as the band led the audience through a thick, synth-driven set reminiscent of Daft Punk. As Quaintance lost his clothes, the audience lost its mind.

The rowdies at the front took a breather while Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong took the stage for a more subdued, albeit enthusiastic, performance.

Full of competing guitars and singer Lean’s stylish posturing, the band at first elicited only polite interest from the formerly rambunctious crowd. However, as Lean said genially, “Hello, we’re rather new. Let’s be friends,” fans quickly jumped on the mod-flavoured bandwagon and sang along to tunes like “Lonely Buoy” and “Lucio Starts Fires.”

By this time, the crowd was in a frenzy, and it took only the first few notes from the beloved band-turned-national phenomenon the Cribs to send it into delirium.

Composed of brothers Ryan, Gary, and Ross Jarman, the indie punk-pop trio has gained a faithful following and critical hype over the past few years.

Ryan alone has made several infamous TV appearances, making the NME Cool List two years running. His oversized personality complements the band’s feverish performances, with intense songs punctuated by vague observations and crowd-baiting remarks.

Filled with heavy guitar, clashing drums and calm duets, the band’s infectious tunes and intense delivery hit a nerve with the crowd, which responded with absolute, mosh-pitting adoration for its Wakefield heroes.

The brilliant set didn’t prepare the audience, however, for a final shock: the surprise appearance of the Smiths’ Johnny Marr for the final three songs. The legendary guitarist, currently collaborating with the band, amplified the crowd’s fervour.

As the first band to sell out two consecutive nights at the Refectory in 30 years, the Cribs made its mark on the venue’s history not only statistically, but musically. In a stellar tour lineup, the Cribs were the ones that you remembered as you stumbled out after the show, covered in sweat and ready to reach for your dreams.

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