The Streets review: Mike Skinner makes a triumphant return at Brixton Academy in London
Despite a fairly long hiatus – the old Skinner was still present
It’s hard to think that in 2011 Mike Skinner announced The Streets’ retirement, leaving everyone to dry their eyes at their raucous farewell tour.
And yet, seven years on, the band’s UK garage beats and everyday working-class lyricism triumphantly returned for a long-awaited comeback tour.
After a lot of uproar about 2011’s Computer and Blues supposedly being the “final” album from Skinner under the alias, the Birmingham-born hip-hop, garage and electronica artist-producer was determined to reinvent himself. Yet the 39-year-old could not help but return to his roots by tearing into an almost retrospective Streets set.
“I’ve missed tour buses very much,” he said after he announced the details of The Darker The Shadow The Brighter The Light tour, and on Thursday night it showed as he stared back at the audience in complete awe.
Despite the hiatus, the old Skinner was still present. His signature buzz-cut hair, black tee, and ferocious energy tore through the stage while doe-eyed lads looked up chanting every poetic line back at him.
There was an air of nostalgia, as though every single person in the audience had been transported back to the sentimental memories of the early Noughties with songs such as “Let’s Push Things Forward” and “Weak Become Heroes” blasting through the speakers – a stark reminder of how pioneering Skinner’s 2002 bedsit-made album Original Pirate Material really was.
Songs like “Don’t Mug Yourself” and “Dry Your Eyes” were a reminder of how spot on his invocations of laddish attitude and sentimentality can be. His realness and ability to swallow the challenges young men face showed as many in the crowd, wearing flat caps and tracksuits, swayed shoulder to shoulder, often turning to each other relaying the lyrics. When “Blinded By The Lights” and “Fit But You Know It” came on, the crowd went wild, proving the influential album A Grand Don’t Come For Free still was held in great esteem.
Despite some sound issues, the hits continued to bubble over like the fizz from the bottles of champagne Skinner insisted on shaking up and spraying over the crowd. An electric encore led to “Oh, Jeremy Corbyn” being chanted in unison – a sign that Skinner and co still belong to the socialist working classes. A cheeky Arctic Monkeys mashup made an entrance, a nice nod to the indie era.
Surprisingly though, Skinner didn’t touch his latest release “You Are Not The Voice In Your Head”. Maybe a sign that there is more to come from the Brum lad.