The Cribs / Maximo Park - Manchester Apollo - 16.10.05

The last time I saw The Cribs was as support to The Ordinary Boys earlier on in the year. The Cribs have a non-stop adrenaline rush with the drummer standing on his kit and singer Ryan Jarman an arresting frontman, however the songs sound half-baked, like unfinished ramshackle demos. Shouty vocals are drowned out by the guitars, but the punk attitude shines through and they're deftly aided by the strobe lighting. They have some good ideas bubbling under the surface and the occasionally catchy chorus and chirpy melodies help. "Why Can't I Be Mine" and "Hey Scenesters" aren't bad, but they're hardly the indie anthems the hype would suggest. The less memorable songs from these chord wonders make Babyshambles sound like Radiohead. New single "You're Gonna Lose Us" has a certain oikish charm, but the crowd tolerate rather than celebrate The Cribs. They clap, cheer with a respectable dignity, but I can't see any passion from the paying public. The Cribs try hard, but maybe it's not enough.

Much better and far more entertaining are the genial Geordies Maximo Park. Firing on all cylinders from the moment they hit the stage Maximo Park play for a fun packed forty minutes. Singer, dancer, demi-god Paul Smith may dress like an unorthodox student lecturer but his presence as leader of the gang is a frontman who has the audience in the palm of his hand. Tracks from their debut album "A Certain Trigger" captivate and dazzle the crowd and they've grown in confidence since touring the world, including a recent tour of Australia. The brilliant self confessional pop of "Graffiti" matches the Smiths for bedsit, observational whimsy. During "Once, A Glimpse" Paul reads from a book as the guitars chime beneath some of the most achingly romantic lyrics ever written.

Maximo Park know how to rock though with "Apply Some Pressure" closing their set in triumphant style, the jewel in the crowd of barnstorming tunes. As a band Maximo Park have class, charm and genuine likeability. In the live arena they've achieved that greatness that they were on the cusp of when Designer Magazine saw them earlier on the year at 53 Degrees.

Fans of the Cribs may disagree but Maximo Park blew them off the stage with a reaction from the fans which screams out love and affection.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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