17 March 2007: Faithless – Arena, Nottingham, England, UK

17 March 2007: Faithless - Arena, Nottingham, England, UK

How did it ever come to this? Only a matter of hours before the gig I found an old bootleg cassette in my attic of the first show I ever went to; The Cult at the Concert Hall (Nottingham) in March 1987. From goth-rock to dance-pop in 20 easy steps.

Now, dance-music really isn’t my thing and nor is a stadium gig. My last – and only other – stadium experience was Slayer at the NEC around 1991 so this was yet another variation from my usual night out. Yes, I did dabble in dance many years ago during a heady summer of love but in my defence it was chemically-induced and I soon saw the folly of my actions. As a result I should warn you that if you’re after a full and thorough critique of Faithless’s performance, well, you’ve probably come to the wrong place.

Nottingham Arena is huge with a capacity I wouldn’t like to guess at….but thankfully Google provides the answer of 10,000. The provision of toilets appeared to be something of an afterthought for the developers which meant a long walk before queuing outside of the gents, not what you’d expect at a new venue. Sat about half a mile from the stage at the opposite end I couldn’t help but be impressed by the teeming masses standing in the stalls down below with luminous glow-in-the-dark sticks constantly whizzing around.

Support was from Calvin Harris who I’ve never heard of but – amazingly – I did almost recognise one of their songs. This received the biggest response from the subdued crowd so maybe it’s been in the popular hit parade. The only way I could describe them would be as similar to Faithless but with less electronic beeping. Not for the last time I wondered whether this sort of band really needs a guitarist when you can barely hear him most of the time.

Smoking tends to bug me for many reasons these days and it’s even worse when it’s in a non-smoking venue, such as the Arena, with the smoker pathetically attempting to hide his or her actions. Thankfully some people are decent enough to stop puffing away when asked nicely and the girl sat next to me was one of those people. Roll on July 2007.

Faithless stepped out under an impressive light show and seven or so screens displaying assorted footage to open with ‘Insomnia’. I have to say that I don’t find Faithless as hard on the ears as most dance music and won’t always reach for the off button as soon as I hear them on the radio. The highlight for me was ‘Mass Destruction’ because it actually started with something approaching a guitar riff which got my foot tapping, only to stop when the next lot of beeping came in. ‘God is a DJ’ was also played but that’s as far as my knowledge goes.

They play their stuff very well but the mix of chilled rapping from the fella, warbling from the girl and mostly keyboard noises generally leaves me cold. I can see how it might get you dancing but not stimulating your mind. Definitely music for the body not the soul, but each to their own of course. Speaking of the body, I’m pleased to report that the bass was gut-wobblingly loud which I didn’t expect at this sort of venue.

They played an encore and then thankfully it was all over, except for a quick dash to the exit to try to beat the other 9,998 people. I’m sure that the vast majority of those had a great time but I’ll be much happier watching some barely-known rock band in a fleapit sometime soon.


10 March 2007: The Cribs – Escobar, Wakefield, England, UK

Its three years since The Cribs played their home town of Wakefield, three years, two months, two weeks and five days to be precise, not that the Wakefield faithful have been counting the days since the bands last gig at the cities now legendary Escobar.

So bearing in mind the next venue on the Jarman Brothers gig list is the vast Royal Albert Hall, it came as no surprise that the mere two hundred tickets available via the internet sold out in literally seconds. Although many local fans lost out due to the first come first served national ticket sale, it did however mean that fans from all over the country had the chance to see the band perform in the intimacy of the club where in more or less all started.

With the temperature inside the venue rising as quickly as the expectations of the crowd already whipped up by the excellent support band The Research, and the now famous chant of “Wakefield, Wakefield” heralding their arrival, The Cribs explode on to the stage.

The audience erupt, bouncing insanely, pushing forwards at times threatening to overwhelm the line of security keeping them off the low level stage. The band keep a relentless pace as they play though their back catalogue and test out a few new songs from the forthcoming album. Mirror Kisses, Martell, Direction, Wrong Way To Be, new song, Our Bovine Public and MTV all come fast and furious, ending the set with another number followed by Ryan’s bizarre yet beautiful solo version of Chris de Burgh’s Lady in Red.

So as the band go back to the bigger venues, festivals and American tours, the Escobar gig will always be remembered by the lucky few who were there, as the night The Cribs came home.

© Derek Lines