Seven years ago at the Big Reunion – Skegness, The Streets brought down the curtain on their career. Five albums, ten years and twelve charting singles later the group were done. But their mark on history wasn’t.
The Streets changed the way that the Brit’s perceived urban music. Their fusion of UK garage, alternative hip hop, and pirate radio rap / pop came together to form a sound that hadn’t been achieved before.
The Birmingham group led by front man and lead vocalist Mike Skinner gave British rap a voice. During an interview with The Guardian Skinner said “I don’t have the drama of murder and violence that rap has, so I’ve always tried to make something dramatic from nothing”. This gave us lyrics about post-drinking kebab queues and greasy spoon cafeterias, creating relatable tracks that hip hop hadn’t given us before.
Skinner kept himself busy during his time away from the Streets becoming an in-demand DJ alongside promotor Murkage Dave with a club nights known as ‘Tonga’. Years back Skinner said he’d only bring back The Streets if he was 40 and needed the money. Soon to turn 40, it seems that cash isn’t the reason he has decided to bring it all back. “Well, I don’t need the cash, otherwise I’d have done all the festivals, and the offers we got were insane.” But instead he was inspired by Dizzee Rascals Boy In Da Corner Anniversary Red Bull Gig. Skinner said “He (Dizzee) said at one point, ‘I know this means a lot to you,’ and it felt like it was his way of saying, ‘But I’ve moved on.’ And I totally get that. I’m gonna celebrate the past”. And thats what he is doing.
Tickets went on sale back in October 2017 ready for the six (turned seven) night comeback tour starting in their hometown of Birmingham, rounding off on three consecutive nights in Brixton’s O2 Academy with tickets selling out in seconds.
After witnessing their final festival performance at Reading & Leeds back in 2011 I never thought I’d get the chance again, but there I was, heading on over to London to watch their comeback.
Supported by Birminghams upcoming grime artist Jaykae, you could already get a feel for the energy and excitement that was buzzing round the venue awaiting the main act.
The crowd erupted as the groups frontman waltzed on stage to their 2002 hit – Turn the Page. Stood on a black box centre stage Skinner looked right at home. Chatting away to the fans in the first few rows like it was nothing. Teasing us about getting into the crowd and joining in the mayhem.
Less than three tracks into the set he had kept his word, as he began flying over head held up by fans, still managing not to miss a lyric or drop a beat. With pride in his voice he announced setting the record for the highest beer consumption within the venue as the two pint cups shot overhead showering the crowd in beer.
The set was exactly what we were told it was going to be, their greatest hits. Track after track it seemed to get better and better. Banger after banger were sung back to the group from a sea of fans. Smartly placed tracks meant the energy never dropped for a second as the group followed up a mosh-pit fulled anthem by a sing-a-long ballad for a breath of fresh air.
Repeatedly showering the crowd in champagne Skinner brings his four piece band and vocalist Kevin Mark Trail out of retirement to encourage scenes of havoc, demanding that Brixton was to make this Thursday night the new weekend. Sloshing beers flew overhead in agreement.
Despite years away from live performances the groups’ energy hasn’t weakened, if anything just developed, as they ended the night with a bang on their hit ‘Fit But You Know It’. With such a massive reaction to the groups return, maybe there’ll be more to come.