LIVE: Crows - Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, 06/04/2022

LIVE: Crows – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, 06/04/2022

The only shocking thing about the success of London post-punks Crows is how close it came to never happening.

Formed in 2015, the band built a strong following early on behind their raucous, sweat-drenched live shows.  They recorded their debut album, but then inexplicably struggled to find anyone willing to put it out.

It ended up being a chance conversation between singer James Cox and IDLES frontman Joe Talbot that saved the day.  Talbot, it turned out, was a huge fan of Crows, and agreed to release the record, entitled Silver Tongues, on his Balley Records label. It was a fine album that garnered considerable critical praise.

Fast-forward three years and they are back with a new album, Beware Believers, and it doesn’t disappoint.  More compact than its predecessor, it makes a clear statement on what the true Crows sound really is.  Talbot, who attended last night’s tour opener in Bristol, will doubtless have been very impressed with what he heard.

Support tonight comes from local band Clwb Fuzz, and their music certainly does exactly what it says on the tin, conjuring happy memories of the Dandy Warhols at times.  Starting as a pleasant noisy diversion, their set gets progressively more impressive as it goes along, culminating in terrific grungy closer ‘Horses’.  Specific mention has to go to Gruff Roberts, who is mesmerising on the drums.

Then Crows come on, and if there is one person who is ready to get cracking it is clearly drummer Sam Lister.  He absolutely tears into his kit on ferocious psych-grunge opener ‘Closer Still’, and the tone for the night is set.

Cox takes the first of many forays into the crowd for ‘Garden of England’, a song that reminds you again why Crows are a band you have to see in-person.  Yes, Beware Believers does a pretty good job of capturing their live energy, but there’s no recording equipment in the world that can capture THIS.

It’s this contrast between the records and the live experience that make Crows a tricky band to adequately describe.  Steve Goddard’s echoey guitar effects and Cox’s distorted vocals are straight out of shoegaze, and songs like ‘Healing’ are reminiscent of Joy Division‘s post-punk.  As a live act, though, with the energy, the noise, and the explosive delivery, this is pure punk rock.

Right on cue, the first mosh pit of the night breaks out for ‘The Itch’, and reappears at regular intervals throughout.  The kids know what’s up.  We are also treated to another real golden-oldie in ‘Whisper’, which is a very pleasant surprise.

This is a terrific set across the board.  ‘Slowly Separate’ seethes with a wonderfully alarming guitar sound.  ‘Sad Lad’ may be slower, but it is so loud it feels like the room is shaking. Musically, they are tight and exciting and Cox remains one of the most engaging frontmen around.

The highlight of the set, though, is recent single ‘Room 156’.  Based loosely on the crimes of serial killer H.H. Holmes, the song captures that dark energy with Jith Amarasinghe’s bruising baseline and Cox’s haunting vocals.  “Broken things let the light in.”  Is it me, or did it just get cold in here? Someone close the bloody door, will you.

Crows already have a remarkable history, but one gets the sense that there is a lot more story to be told for one of Britain’s most exciting and talented bands.  As Cox reminds us before the show, IDLES toiled away for years before they became an ‘overnight success’.  With Beware Believers, Crows have laid clear foundations for their future progression, and the sky is really the limit for them.

Join the murder.  It’s going to be a fun ride.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.