Libertines / Ordinary Boys / The Cribs

Birmingham Academy


After somehow surviving a year of smack, crack, fall-outs, reconciliations, 'secret' gigs and spells in jail, the Libertines are officially on the way to becoming a 'Big Band'. The leather jacket has become the de rigueur item of clothing, it's suddenly become cool to have an asymmetric, neo-Rod Stewart-style haircut, (aka the Pete from Fame Academy) and scarves, preferably of the Burberry variety have become a must-have fashion accessory for any discernible garage-rock bandwagon jumper. Along with their newfound trendiness, the Libs's frontmen Pete 'n' Carl are fast becoming one of the most talked about duos since the hazy days of Mick 'n' Keef, Morrissey and Marr and dare we say it, Chas 'n' Dave...

The Cribs seem destined to trawl the murky depths of the toilet circuit, as ghosts of indie past Mo-ho-bish-o-pi and Crashland seemed to do for an eternity before them. Nothing particularly bad about their tuneful arty-garage assault, the fuzzy bass acting as a rhythm guitar, whilst singer Ryan's guitar picks out single note melodies, but at the end of the day, the most remarkable thing about the Cribs is that their excitable drummer has a tendency to stand on his kit mid-song, and that he wears a spangly, sequinned shirt.

The Ordinary Boys just keep getting better and better. When the writer last saw them live, they clearly had great songs, but onstage they were slightly uneasy and dysfunctional. However, tonight they're bang on form, now looking like a proper unit, and the crowd even sings along to In Awe Of The Awful and Maybe Someday.

You would think that people wouldn't dare wear baseball caps to a Libertines gig given the lyrics to Time for Heroes, but it's amazing how different the crowd is to a usual Libs gig. Not only do we get the baseball cap-sporting, bling-blingers, but also the Stella-swilling, chain-smoking lager lads as well as groups of excitable young boys who judging from the way they were acting may have been on their first night out, thinking it would be really cool to deliberately crush the people in front of them. In-between bands this crushing continues and rather worryingly, football-terrace chants take place. Onto the music; opener, new song The Saga alienates many of the afore mentioned casual fans, but Don't Look Back Into The Sun soon gets the ball rolling and has everyone singing along.

Horror Show sees the crowd go absolutely wild, and sees many people ending up on the floor, whilst proposed new single Last Post On The Bugle grows on the listener with each listen, and if released will almost certainly give the band their biggest hit yet. Doherty and Barât aren't anywhere near as electric as usual, although the former is clearly his usual dreamy self, having to be walked offstage by his fellow bandmates at the end, appearing not to acknowledge the end of the band's set.

Not a bad performance by any means, although not up to the breathtaking standards of their celebratory three-night stand at the London Forum in December. One can't help but feel that the over aggressive crowd limits the enjoyment of the gig for certain people, and there's obvious tension between the hardcore 'old fans' and the newcomers, and in one instance, an especially ignorant 'fan' persists to calling Pete Doherty a 'smackhead' throughout the duration. Solid performance, but let's just hope the crowd isn't a price to pay for the Libertine's increasing success.

Clive Drew