25.07.2019

The Streets’ Mike Skinner is the candid personality the music industry desperately needs to preserve

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Words by Luke Carlino
Photos by Dan Soderstrom

This wasn't just an ordinary gig, it was an educative masterclass.

It seems somewhat fitting that The Streets return to Melbourne took place on the day Instagram removed the importance of how many likes your picture gets. Mike Skinner made such an impact with his music because he described very real situations and problems that young people could completely relate to. His appearance back in Melbourne after an eight-year gap is well suited to the day where popularity in the digital world became a lot less important.

Skinner repeatedly drilled home this point throughout his Splendour in the Grass sideshow. “Nobody knows how many likes your picture is going to get, so let’s just be in the moment, it’s all that matters.” The theme of the evening, from Skinner’s point of view, is that it is fine to wear all black (as he was) but none of us are cool. He worked hard to remove the notion of “cool” so everyone could enjoy themselves, and as the audience loosened up with each song, by the end of the set he pretty much achieved his goal.

Melbourne’s The Avalanches, Tony Di Blasi and Robbie Chater, began the night with a tag-team DJ set that hopped all over the musical spectrum. The duo moved effortlessly from things like Led Zeppelin to Yothu Yindi in an hour-long set ending on their classic track ‘Since I Left You’, an excellent warm-up for the sold-out crowd. 

Mike Skinner’s live show includes a three-piece band, a DJ and vocalist Kevin Mark Trail, who turned the event into much more of a musical spectacle than one may have expected. Small jams and breakdowns were filtered throughout tracks we know and love giving a truly live music experience. This also meant that Skinner could spend the set half reciting lyrics and half just speaking about whatever he felt like, without it seeming out-of-place. This is, after all, what makes up The Streets –Skinner’s thoughts spewed out over garage beats and melodic loops.

Opening with ‘Turn The Page’ which was seamlessly pushed into ‘Let’s Push Things Forward’, Skinner is clearly an expert in controlling the crowd. While plowing through various bottles of champagne during one of the highlight anthems, ‘Don’t Mug Yourself’, Skinner opted to run a little social experiment. With the house lights on, he prompted various females throughout the audience to crowd-surf in an effort to show that they can feel comfortable taking part in that activity in 2019, where they may not have at a Streets show in 2005.

The main set simmered everything down with ‘Dry Your Eyes’, with an encore that focussed on cuts from The Darker The Shadow The Brighter The Light and a cover of Grim Sickers’ ‘Open The Till’. The night ended on an extremely energetic ‘Fit But You Know It’ during which Skinner himself crowd-surfed his way from the back of the venue to the stage.

The evening seemed somewhat nostalgic considering how long it’s been since Skinner was in the limelight, but with new music on the way and live shows as energetic as this, Skinner is making sure that you’ll still be listening to The Streets in years to come.

Highlight: The energetic closing anthem ‘Fit But You Know It’.

Lowlight: Mike Skinner losing his shoe in the crowd – which seemed to really bother him.

Crowd favourite: Singalongs and fist pumps during ‘Don’t Mug Yourself’.