Ordinary Boys / The Cribs / The Explosion

Bristol Anson Rooms


Splicing together the best bits of several classic British bands; - the raw energy and social observation of The Jam, the jangly guitar intricacy of The Smiths, the pop sensibilities of The Beatles, The Ordinary Boys are one of the few bands emerging from the UK that actually mean something. At a time where the alternative music scene's either dominated by second-rate Strokes wannabes or countless '80s throwback bands eager to jump onto the Franz/Killers bandwagon, the Ordinary Boys come as a breath of fresh air in the sterile musical climate of 2005.

The Explosion are five American guys from Boston, Massachusetts, who play punk rock British style. And they are quite possibly the loudest band I've ever heard. Bouncers built like brick shithouses cower in terror and hastily reach for their earplugs as soon as the band launch into their opener, and when the bass kicks in it feels as if every vital organ in your body is being dislodged and gradually transported up through your throat. Musically they're not anything too spectacular, - clearly good at what they do but not particularly original. Imagine a stockier Strokes playing Ramones and Sham 69 covers and you're not far off.

If there is one band who by right should be make it big this year, then it's Wakefield's band of brothers The Cribs. Fusing together throwaway pop hooks and harmonies with punk energy and dirty guitars, the band who've reputedly been playing together for twenty years (since they were five years old) have already got a fair amount of indie celeb singing their praises including fellow Leeds boys the Kaiser Chiefs, Carl Barât and The Others. However, the band are quick to distance themselves from the mediocrity of the spate of 'grot n roll' bands emerging in these post-Libertine times, as documented in new single Hey Scenesters which highlights their disenchantment with those who sculpture their mult-coloured hair asymmetrically and think it's cool to request Don't Look Back Into The Sun at Yeti gigs. Anyway, The Cribs are almost good enough to outshine the headliners, - What About Me, Direction and The Lights Went Out all being faultless examples of their perfected compressed songwriting formula. And although, this writer once compared them to indie minnows Mo-ho-bish-o-pi, all is taken back, and you get the feeling that this might just be The Cribs' year.

"I've been really poorly" informs a rather worse-for-wear-looking gastroenteritis-stricken Preston, lead singer and chief Ordinary Boy as he takes to the stage, however this doesn't stop him from manically skanking round the stage and throwing himself off the drum riser as the band launch into their signature tune Week In Week Out. The List Goes On and Weekend Revolution are slotted away early on in the set, new drummer Simon Goldring fitting effortlessly, gurning throughout as indeed all good drummers should. A fair few new tunes are showcased, indicating a more poppy, overtly ska influenced sound - new single Boys Will Be Boys harking back to the days of The Specials and showing the American bunch how proper ska should be played. The band's live sound on this tour's beefed up by the addition of a keyboardist, the rather plush light show also adding another element to the band's live show. It's certainly a long way from the pub venues where we first became acquainted with Ordinary Boys.

A cover of the Ramones' classic The KKK Took My Baby Away and Seaside end the show, and you do get the feeling that Preston can't wait to get off stage tonight given his condition, but regardless of this, the Ordinary Boys have just effortlessly made the transition from the small to middle sized venues, - it's really up to them as to where they go next.

Clive Drew