Mike Skinner requires no introduction.
The Noughties were dominated by The Streets since they tore up the rule book with ‘Original Pirate Material’ back in 2002. They are back touring again after a huge 6 year hiatus.
Mike Skinner has been popping up doing DJ sets in recent years but when he’s on stage as The Streets it’s a very much different Skinner. They were at the Apollo in 2018 with comeback tour ‘The Darker The Shadow The Brighter The Light’ and they are back on the UK circuit with an extended tour. I went down on the first of three sold out nights at the Apollo.
The crowd was a good mix of people who fell in love with The Streets first time round and a new wave of fans that are 15 years late to the party. The opening track is ‘Turn the Page’ the unmistakable intro taking us back to where it all began on that first album.
That familiar face comes bouncing onto the stage and straight into the pit, his vocals are timeless. In true Skinner fashion he’s straight into the chat with the crowd “Let’s hear you 0161, tonight we’re putting Manny on the map!”
He follows with ‘Lets Push Things Forward’, a track from the same album which brings out Kevin Mark Trail, the unmistakable vocalist on many of The Streets tracks. A couple more off ‘OPM’ and into ‘Could Well Be In’, the crowd is feeling the love with the majority of the venue belting out the chorus.
Skinner has taped his gateway to the pit on the stage and spends much of the evening up and down to see the crowd. His connection with them is second to none, a few versus have gone by that he’s stopped singing to have a chat with someone before nonchalantly going back into the chorus.
At his home town gig earlier, Skinner crowd surfed his shoulder into dislocation, (his Instagram video from the hospital is worth a watch) he tells the multiple grabbers on the front row to “Chill out!”
He continues to take us through a nostalgia trip of his previous five albums, speaking to the crowd once again before a complete change of atmosphere for ‘Never Went To Church’. He takes a seat on the stage and suddenly everyone’s lighters are in the air.
He continues to vibe with the crowd about his demons; “If your brain isn’t functioning. If you feel like things aren’t adding up as they should, you might be depressed. I only say that because I ignored it. Then I got help and started talking to people and the turnaround was incredible.” I suppose it was only right to then follow this up with ‘Stay Positive’.
Mike Skinner takes a break from the tunes to quench his thirst, grabbing a tenner and picking an accomplice from the crowd. “You need to get me a two pint drink from the bar up there.” as he points to the top deck. Skinner has already downed some fan’s pints from the front row. True to his word the lad returns to the stage with two double pinters in tow. They stand on stage and down them together before launching the (almost) empty cups back into the crowd.
A few more tracks lead in to the big hits that everyone’s here for, the first of which ‘Dry Your Eyes Mate’ puts a stop to the bouncing around. It’s lighters and torches and hug whoever’s within arm’s reach time.
A very brief break builds the tension, and then a complete shift in tempo as the encore kicks off with ‘Your Wave God’s Wave God‘ a treat for the Manchester crowd as Skinner invites home-grown Bugzy Malone to join him on stage, getting the reaction it deserves from the crowd.
The only new release from Skinner this decade is ‘Call Me In The Morning’, also getting a strong reception by the sweaty moshpit. Keen to squeeze some more tracks in an already stacked setlist, Skinner merges ‘Weak Become Heroes’, with cult classic ‘Pranging Out’. The light show raises the intensity with the stage being barely visible for ‘Blinded By The Lights’
Before the last track Mike Skinner explains “We have someone from Guinness here and we want to break the record for biggest mosh pit, nobody be a hero!” The lower levels clears with its back to the wall, the bassist manages to narrowly dodge a rogue shoe… “Wait for it. Wait for it. Don’t be a hero…”
The intro plays out and it’s as if The Streets never went away.