Sunday 27 January 2019

Live Review: The Streets, O2 Academy Birmingham 19/01/2019

Live Review: The Streets, O2 Academy Birmingham 19/01/2019

Obsession would be a slight way of putting it. Having sound-tracked my youth through his sharp wit and lyricism, Mike Skinner was a name that frequented my vocabulary throughout my teenage years. I knew I was on to something good when I first saw him and his live band over 10 years ago. Through the ageing, all the miles travelled up and down the country, all the hungover mornings and beer/piss soaked t-shirts, the friends I've made and the moments he's lifted me through - he's created some of the best memories I've had. To put it simply, 2011 was a sad year when it all came to a sudden end end. Dry Your Eyes making a fitting tribute as Skinner laid The Streets to rest.

Following 7 years of recouperation, he marked a welcomed resurrection to the live circuit with a string of UK and EU dates in 2018, before part two resumed this January. The show was back on the road, and with some new track's thrown in too for good measure, fans were keener than ever before with tickets snapped up in seconds.

The third night of his hometown residency fell on Saturday 19th January. Inside the atmosphere was rowdy to say the least. I'd almost forgotten just how electric the crowd could be as the lights dimmed and 'Turn The Page' opened the proceedings, the room singing in unison to its dramatic, orchestral build-up. Dressed in signatory all black a shadow emerged. Despite having dislocated his shoulder whilst crowd surfing the previous night Mike was in good spirits. "I should not be here" he echoed. "But it's a Saturday night and you look up for itttt". And they were, as 2 pint cups of beer were launched around the sweat-soaked room.

Skinner’s struggles with addiction and depression are no mystery to his music. I'm still yet to this day see anyone depict and visualise it quite so well. He makes a stand for men to open up, especially in this climate as the night took an emotional turn with great applause before working his magic on 'Stay Positive'. The set list was made up of his greatest hits, covering everything from across his five albums. There was even room for a couple of new tracks, 'Wave God', 'Open the Till' and 'Boys will be Boys' all getting air time. Fellow Brummie Jaykae joined Mike on stage for their energetic rendition as the crowd volume peaked.

For anyone not familiar with Skinner's crowd interaction, it's second to none. "I need a beer" he proclaimed as willing volunteers rushed to his service offering their pints to which he gladly accepts from the front row. I'm yet to see anyone acknowledge an audience to this level, and probably never will. From telling everyone to to be careful throwing beer near a ladies expensive jacket, which he later got her to pass down the crowd to the front so he could keep it safe and clean for her to collect after the show, to getting a man to crowd surf to the front for a beer and then back again. This was entertainment at its highest level.

Saving the best until last, 'Weak Become Heroes' was performed with a faster, club-ready beat compared to its studio version before melting seamlessly in to 'Blinded By The Lights', leaving the laddish anthem 'Fit But You Know It' to cap off a passionate and animated evening at the O2 Academy Birmingham. He may very well no longer have the same life experiences to replicate the timeless music he once created, but that doesn't mean he can't still put on one hell of a party! Will there be a new album? Will there be further tour announcements? For now we live in hope, the fire in our hearts rekindled for just how good of a live band they are.

The Streets Played:
01 Turn the Page
02 Let's Push Things Forward
03 Same Old Thing 
04 Sharp Darts
05 Don't Mug Yourself 
06 Could Well Be In
07 Has It Come to This? 
08 Geezers Need Excitement
09 Everything Is Borrowed
10 Never Went to Church
11 Stay Positive
12 Going Through Hell
13 Too Much Brandy
14 It's Too Late Play
15 The Escapist 
16 Heaven for the Weather
18 Dry Your Eyes

19 Your Wave God's Wave God
20 Call Me in the Morning
21 Open the Till (Grim Sickers cover)
22 Boys Will Be Boys 
23 Weak Become Heroes
24 Blinded by The Lights/Prangin Out
25 Fit But You Know It

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