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30th January 2019

Live Review: The Streets

Mike Skinner incites a wild reaction from the crowd at The Streets’ highly anticipated return to Manchester Apollo, writes contributor Alice Berkeley
Live Review: The Streets
Photo: Tomasz Ras @Flickr

It has been 17 years since Mike Skinner, otherwise known as The Streets, released his seminal and genre-spanning album, Original Pirate Material, and 8 since he temporarily disbanded the project, yet the excitement surrounding his infamously rowdy live shows has never subsided. The diversity of age groups gathering at the Apollo for the second of three sold-out shows in Manchester demonstrates that although for some the appeal of the gig is primarily nostalgia, for many fans, The Streets has a timeless appeal.

Despite dislocating his shoulder while crowd surfing at his hometown gig in Birmingham, Skinner is on top form, whipping the crowd up into a frenzy from the very first lyric of the opening track, ‘Turn the Page’, exclaiming “Manchester, you look mad!” He is immediately handed a pint from the front row, the first of many offerings that are made by his dedicated fans throughout the gig, including multiple pint glasses, a smuggled bottle of brandy, and two pairs of trainers, which he keeps safe on the stage. He reciprocates by ordering 5 two-pint glasses of beer to the stage, handing four of them into the crowd and keeping one for himself for an impromptu drinking competition.

Skinner powers through a wide-spanning and unrelenting setlist, cutting some songs short and blending them into each other in order to cram both new and old material into an hour and a half — a technique that does not bother the audience, who welcome the start of each song equally. Highlights include a funky performance of ‘Weak Become Heroes’ and pounding and boisterous rendition of ‘Too Much Brandy’, a track that reflects the overall tone of the night.

Despite the majority of the set being fast paced and energetic, there is opportunity for some respite during ‘Everything is Borrowed’, ‘Going through Hell’, and a heart-breaking rendition of ‘Never Went to Church’, a tribute to Skinner’s late father.  Even during these songs, the crowd remains feverish, a fact that does not escape him — “Why does the most violent shit happen during the ballads? Sing a sad song, massive fight.”

After a brief break in the set, Skinner shouts “The after party just fucking started! Who’s got work in the morning? Call in sick!” as he is joined on stage by grime artist Grim Sickers to wildly perform hard hitting and bassy new collaborations ‘Call Me in the Morning’ and ‘Open the Till’.

The set closes with iconic hit single ‘Fit but You Know It’. Skinner jumps manically around the stage, exclaiming that “I think that we could break a world record tonight you know, let’s make the biggest circle pit known to man!” Carnage descends upon the Apollo: the balcony shakes, pints fly and the mosh pit rages. The euphoric crowd disperses and Mike Skinner leaves the stage to play a DJ set later in the night, safe in the knowledge that his legendary status has been upheld.


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