The Ordinary Boys, The Cribs, The Explosion

Mike Mantin 02/03/2005

Spirits are high in Preston's camp tonight. It's a homecoming show and the last night of a tour celebrating a meteoric rise to fame. But before the confetti-aided celebrations, we have to sit through two rather lacklustre support acts. Firstly, interest in The Explosion is rapidly sapped: the moshpit erodes after two songs as the audience realises that the rest of their material isn't quite as catchy as first single 'Here I Am'. The lyrics are basic, the screaming is wimpy and, according to my observant and technically clued-up friend, the bassist seems to play a C chord for the entire set.

That's nothing compared to the abuse that The Cribs have to put up with. The crowd remain static and one particularly harsh punter calls the lead singer “scum”. Although the poor bloke resembles Johnny Borrell without the star quality, this is a tad unfair. The Cribs play rather standard indie-rock, a couple of neat riffs here and there but none of the attitude or songwriting skills that have elevated the most recent über-hyped kids to stardom. They're not pretty boys, either. It's hard to see these guys shoot to the position on rock's scale that they seem to think they're on (the singer plays an acoustic encore, for God's sake!)

The Ordinary Boys (*** ) finally stride on confidently to deafening applause from a crowd of locals, friends and ex-schoolmates and launch straight into the riffy 'Week In Week Out'. They've come a long way from the scruffy, shambolic live act of only a year ago: they're now a medium-sized venue-filling band who look like they know what they're doing. All the hits are wheeled out with relative ease, with a quasi-moshpit growing slowly with each song. 'Talk Talk Talk', 'Maybe Someday' and the closing 'Seaside' sound incredibly similar to their recorded counterparts, right down to the last 'rargh!' that Preston introduces the solos with. It's almost worryingly smooth.

But tonight isn't all about bashing out the hits, taking the money and running. Undoubtedly the highlight of the night comes when Phil Jupitus- yes, that Phill Jupitus- shuffles on with a black coat and a frown to skank his way through their standard cover of 'Little Bitch'. Although it happened at Reading the year before, it's surprising, surreal and very entertaining. There's also some new stuff, naturally difficult to remember the melody of but rather promising, though their 'ska' song is a tad predictable.

Preston gurns and grins like the rock idol he's now considered to be as the band stride about confidently. Tonight, if nothing else, is a back-slap to celebrate the astonishing ascent of new-found local heroes. Here's hoping this rather triumphant show doesn't cue a 'difficult' second album and a disappearance off the radar.