The buzz when Mike Skinner announced that he was getting The Streets back together created a genuine buzz. One of, if not the most, influential songwriters since the turn of the millennium, coming back for a greatest hits? Yes please. After the furore of sorting tickets and booking days off (sometimes it’s best just to admit early on that you’re going to have a monstrous hangover and to prepare accordingly).
Apparently the first night broke the record at Brixton for most pints sold on a single, and judging by the queues at the bar, they were probably on track to beat it again...
Needless to say, upon his arrival, most of the beers were up in the air as Euphoria took over.
The Streets means a lot of things to a lot of people, and for many, it was a soundtrack to their teenage/early adult years. It would be easy to just view this as a bit of Nostalgia. Mike Skinner isn't about Nostalgia though. From the opening bars of Turn The Page, you realise, firstly, that he is still relevant, and secondly, the songs haven't aged.
The energy from the band (Rob Harvey once of The Music is headbanging his way round the stage for most of the set) and Mike Skinner is a more accomplished performer than he was in peak of The Streets. This wasn't a performance being phoned in. Mike was everywhere, in the crowd, standing on speakers, spraying champagne, instructing the crowd. You can tell how much fun he's having doing this. His posts on social media, and those on the tour have all said the same too, that this is the best tour he's done.
The sound for the first 3 or 4 songs, was disappointing. The Bass overriding much of the music, and making some of the lyrics impossible to pick out. Fortunately not so bad to ruin it, and when you've got certified bangers including Let's Push Things Forward and Has It Come to This, you've probably got just enough to get away with it. Indeed 7 of the first 9 songs were from his first 2 albums, but Never Went to Church, from his 3rd album, was particularly touching (more so than Dry Your Eyes in my opinion), dedicated to his dad.
The end of the "set" was borrowed more from his later albums. Despite promising "The Hits", the encore took the energy levels up another level, playing 3 new songs. Open The Till and Wave God (not done under The Streets the name) saw the crowd pop hard, and followed by Boys Will Be Boys, a "single" recently released under The Streets (suggesting a new album might be on the cards...). Weak Become Heroes, hugging strangers, people on shoulders, led into Blinded The Lights. A genuinely amazing tune that was made for nights like last night. It could have gone on for another 20 minutes, and it still wouldn't have been long enough. And when the beat drops it goes wild. There are limbs everywhere. People who've been holding it in are down the front, inhibitions lost by everyone.
Fit But You Know It was the predictable mosh pit it was always going to be. And with that the gig was over. Proof that The Streets remain one of the key British Artists of our times. He took the crowd back to simpler times, allowed us to be young and reckless again, but showing that he is still very much relevant and a space for him in todays music market. Maybe at the time it was right to end The Streets, but the proof is here now that we need Mike Skinner back more than ever.
On a personal level it was a blast. There was a big group of us. Everyone suitably lubricated and excited and then getting to share the gig with those friends, always makes it more special. Particularly feeling like you're 21 again through Blinded By The Lights and down at the front. Following the gig I managed to catch Tim, who manages Mike, who kindly not only saved me a setlist, but got Mike to sign it for me, plus a couple of passes to go to the after party. There I had the pleasure of meeting Murkage Dave to talk about Liam Gallagher (I told him my story about Liam telling me he was going to win a Mobo) and WKD's (Dave's bringing them back). A few more beers were shared, and with that, another night filled with the best memories.