THE STREETS // O2 ACADEMY, GLASGOW

Birmingham’s massive garage icon, Mike Skinner, is touring once again with London massive The Manor and his form and prowess seemed at an all-time high at his Glasgow performance despite the tour’s eventful beginning when Skinner dislocated his shoulder while performing.

THE STREETS PERFORMING AT GLASGOW’S O2 ACADEMY - 21.01.2019
PICTURE BY: STUART WESTWOOD PHOTOGRAPHY

★★★★☆ (4.5/5)

Skinner is most known for his work leading the grime-y, powerful group, The Streets.  They have become a quintessential, house-hold name amongst alternative hip hop fans. Since their first release Original Pirate Material, that became one of their most beloved works, in 2002, the band have gone on to release many successful albums and have had a string of incredibly catchy singles that all vary distinctly in their effect on the listener. It’s no surprise that their shows are in high demand and sell out rapidly. Despite their regular tours, after parties and frequent festival sets, their followers seem to have an unquenchable Streets appetite.

Support band The Manor are an immense, hype building,  pleasure for any of The Streets’ fans. The bouncing trio, whose talented reputation has been growing since 2007, have a confident presence on stage. With tracks like the cheeky grime ‘Ibiza’ which has an infectiously smoothly vibe that leaves the listener feeling free spirted and the dirty-techno ‘The Sesh,’ they could match the needs of any excited crowd of UK Garage lovers. On the night, Skinner’s fans are well behind the group. MCs Danny Graft, Scotty Stacks, and Jonny Dutch, are charismatic. They look sharp, sound powerful and their hard edge still makes way for a warm charm to radiate through. They left the crowd up beat and pumped up. These lads are ones to check out and catch live where ever you can for a night to leave you feeling buzzed.

Mike Skinner has confidence; some may call it an arrogance that leads him to appear apathetic. But this is not at all how I would describe him. This is a man who belongs entraining a crowd and he knows how to do it well. He may not be one for glitz, glamour, flashy lightshows, eccentricities or excess. But his passion and love for his craft and his supporters is so evident in his dedication to touring, his encapsulating presence on stage and his always wonderful live sound. He put so much of himself into every live show yet manages to make it look effortless.

Rumours have been circulating since Skinner became a father in 2009 that he would be putting his music career to one side. Though it’s been reported that he has kept on a more straight and narrow path, avoiding the lifestyle associated with rap culture, of which he has indulged in his time, his creative projects have continued extensively. Skinner has also opened up about his struggles with chronic fatigue syndrome and wrote about its impact in the song ‘Trying to Kill M.E.’ The man has also launched his own record label, The Beats Recordings, has reworked  many wonderful and unexpected tracks and formed a supergroup with Murkage entitled Tonga Balloon Gang. Skinner has also spurred on fans with talk of new releases and a packed summer of festivals to come in 2019.

For his Glasgow O2 academy set Skinner took to the stage in a plain black polo and black joggers, an outfit very typical of the man. But as mentioned, he is not looking for things to distract attention away from the reason why fans flocked in their thousands to see him. He wants the focus to be on the sound. Synth blared and Skinner announced ‘We are The Streets’ and the crowd went mental.

They opened with the intense ‘Turn the Page,’ a wonderful track to start with to set a powerful tone for the night.

Skinner knows how to connect to his audience. He understands what is in the heads of his fans. He apologised for the start of the week performance and stated that the lack of after party with this show was due to the fact that the ‘Sub Club didn’t want them.’ Then Skinner was joined on stage by Kevin Mark Trail, a long-term Streets collaborator and the bopp-y, skanky rhythms of ‘Let’s Push Things Forward’ sounded out.

When the lads launched into to classic ‘Don’t Mug Yourself’ the crowd really hyped up. With its twitchy, bumpy sound, it was just as good as went it first was released to the world. ‘Could Well be In’ was then played, a must gentler, love song. Skinner and Trail perform it touchingly.

Massive track ‘Has it Come to This?’ blasts out. Trail’s verses slide so smoothly over the beat like warm butter. Fans are in heaven, and they know it.

Skinner then talks about events just days prior at the start of the tour. When playing in his home town, he decided to dive off the stage in to the crowd of adoring fans. It didn’t go to plan, however, and Skinner ended up requiring an emergency hospital trip after dislocating his shoulder.

The lads then launch in to intense tracks ‘Too Late’ and ‘The Escapist.’  It’s getting toward the end of the set and Skinner decides to have a bit of fun with the crowd by asking them to pass a tenner back from the stage to the bar and order him a pint. Of course the fans oblige willingly and it’s not long before Skinner is standing front and centre with pint in hand. He’s removed his polo and stands unflinching showing off his relaxed but toned stature. He has definitely been working out.

He then plays two magnificent tracks. ‘Heaven For the Weather’ has this vintage, classic air to it and sounds even better than the album version live. It builds the perfect excitement for one the band’s biggest tracks ‘Dry Your Eyes.’ This emotional song has the crowd gripping to each other and belting out every word.

The band’s encore was amazingly extensive. They seemed, refreshingly, in no rush to leave the stage unlike so many bands before them who give the impression that a live show is something that they just want to get over and done with.  The band finish energetically with popular tracks ‘Blinded by the Lights’ and ‘Fit But You Know it.’

Despite the passing years and the challenges that inevitably will always come with being alive, The Street sound as wonderful as they did on day one. In fact, they sounded better. Through the production and editing skills that Skinner is constantly growing, popular tracks take on whole new dimensions live. They are an act that will continue to hold their own in the underground hip hop scene and seeing them will give any fan a new appreciation for their sound and their charm.

SETLIST: | THE STREETS : O2 ACADEMY, GLASGOW - 21.01.2019

  • Turn the Page

  • Let’s Push Things Forward

  • Same Old Thing

  • Sharp Darts

  • Don’t Mug Yourself

  • Could Well Be In

  • Has It Come to This?

  • Geezers Need Excitement

  • Everything Is Borrowed

  • Never Went to Church

  • Stay Positive

  • Going Through Hell

  • Too Much Brandy

  • It’s Too Late

  • The Escapist

  • Heaven for the Weather

  • Dry Your Eyes

ENCORE:

  • Your Wave God’s Wave God - (The Darker the Shadow the Brighter the Light cover)

  • Call Me in the Morning

  • Open the Till - (Grim Sickers cover)

  • Boys Will Be Boys

  • Weak Become Heroes / Prangin’ Out

  • Blind by the Lights

  • Fit But You Know It / It Was Supposed to Be So Easy

THE STREETS | UPCOMING TOUR DATES:

22 January 2019 | LEEDS O2 Academy
24 January 2019 | MANCHESTER O2 Apollo
25 January 2019 | MANCHESTER O2 Apollo
26 January 2019 | MANCHESTER O2 Apollo
28 January 2019 | NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 Academy
29 January 2019 | SHEFFIELD O2 Academy
31 January 2019 | BOURNEMOUTH O2 Academy
2 February 2019 | LONDON O2 Brixton Academy
3 February 2019 | LONDON O2 Brixton Academy
5 February 2019 | LONDON O2 Brixton Academy
6 February 2019 | LONDON O2 Brixton Academy
7 February 2019 | LONDON O2 Brixton Academy

REVIEW BY: KATRIN LAMONT
PHOTOS BY: STUART WESTWOOD PHOTOGRAPHY

The Modern Record