The Streets - Live at Metro City [Perth WA, Tues 16/07/19]
Eight years or so ago, Mike Skinner decided to stop recording as The Streets. In that time he’s worked on projects around the music industry until arguably coming full circle as his unique brand of cheeky storytelling returns to the fore. His latest releases once again bear The Streets name.
It’s no surprise that a fair percentage of tonight’s crowd are Brits, most going easier on the bevvies than they would have done had this gig fallen on a weekend. It’s a Tuesday night in the middle of winter, and we’ve all got proper jobs these days. Fans explore Metro City’s vertical maze of mezzanines, seeking out the best vantage points for the night while opening act Slim Set get down to business representing their own home streets of Western Sydney.
There’s about time for one more drink before the marching beat of ‘Turn The Page’ drops and suddenly there he is, Mike Skinner, strolling across the stage with a pint of lager in hand, much as any bloke you kind of recognise might wander over to you in the pub. You're not quite sure if he's getting ready to show you a card trick or if this strangely captivating tale he’s telling is actually his roundabout way of asking if he could please have one of your smokes.
Tracks from every era of The Streets flow seamlessly together with no need for introduction. Instead Skinner's banter between tracks follows the same few recurring themes: his intention to crowdsurf (“I’ve got to do this with no run up”), an enquiry as to whether a lady in the crowd is wearing jeans (so that she can crowdsurf) and his two cents on the time honoured Aussie debate of Holden vs Ford. Would you rather have a sparkly new Holden, he asks, or a reliable fifteen year old Ford that you know is just going to go fast?
Incidentally, it's been fifteen years since ‘Dry Your Eyes’ took The Streets to No.1 in the UK charts. ‘Has It Come To This’, The Streets debut single, won fans who could break out a knowing grin at the mention of a “few herbs and a bit of Benson”, but millions more would listen to ‘Dry Your Eyes’, a song with not one single reference to drink or drugs, and understand that raw pain of the moment when love walks away. But I digress. I don't think that was the metaphor in tonight's story.
Skinner's unassuming presence is contrasted by the energy of collaborators Kevin Mark Trail, who takes on either joint lead or backing vocals on most numbers, and Robert Harvey when he sets his guitar aside and grabs the mic. Four bottles of champagne sit next to a speaker, ready to be opened at random points throughout the show and poured into the empty glasses of front row punters.
That bubbly is the only hint at bling in a show which is deliberately free from distractions, letting the music, or to be more precise the lyrics, be the focus of our attention. A theme of black clothes and no labels has been running through Skinner’s social media for a while now. He even points out that there is no logo on the drum kit, but it’s not entirely clear whether that was by coincidence or design.
We started the evening with a pint and a chat. By the time we go home we’ve been on a journey, each tune a little adventure weaving effortlessly into the next. We leave still pondering the question. Do you want that sparkly Holden, or the reliable fifteen year old Ford?
New start, new sounds: How I finally let Triple J and Groovin The Moo open my ears to new music
I grew up in the UK, where the national home of non-commercial music is late nights on BBC Radio 1. Australia’s nearest equivalent radio station is Triple J, except Triple J is pretty much non-commercial all day long.
I stopped listening to radio when I stopped driving a car, which was more years ago than we need to talk about here. When I did try dipping my toe in again, I quickly learnt that mainstream radio is horrible here, maybe because the presenters are just so damn hyped up and excitable, plus of course it’s all just lowest common denominator pop music. And then there was Triple J, which just never seemed exciting enough. I seemed to catch some kind of slow, miserable song every time I tuned in and I always switched off within seconds.
I stuck with listening to my favourite regular podcasts, mixes and CDs that I’d picked up around the club scene. Eventually a long time passed without me listening to anything much except trance, hard dance and occasionally a bit of fairly mainstream house music.
For years and years, I had no idea what music the rest of the world was listening to.
That was until a few months ago, when I travelled to Tasmania. For those who need a map, Tasmania is the island state at the southernmost point of Australia. I hired a car to drive around this beautiful island for a week. One thing I was sure of before I started my road trip, I was here to escape from my life in Sydney and everything that came with it. My new adventure needed a new soundtrack.
I switched on the radio and started to hear music that suited my mood. A mood where I was very far away from city lights, driving down a country road into the unknown. After a couple of songs the presenter started speaking and I learnt that I was listening to Triple J. My week rolled on, driving through the ever-changing landscape of farmland, coastal towns, rainforest and everything in between, and never once did I think about changing the radio station.
Tasmania was even more amazing than everyone had told me it would be. I continued my travels around Australia. Somewhere along the way, I decided that Spotify might be my friend. I started paying for premium, followed artists I’d learnt about from Triple J and suddenly every day became a new adventure in music.
Yes, I’d been that far out of touch with other music, I’d not even been using Spotify.
Fast forward a couple of months and I found myself in the crowd at Groovin The Moo festival. I could cringe about my poor outfit choice for the occasion, I thought I was going to jump around getting sweaty then sit down in a field somewhere but I was in fact attending WA’s answer to Coachella. I could moan about how old I felt once I realised half the crowd were underage, instead, props to all the WA teens who look years older than you are.
But more important than all that, I got to catch some of my new favourite artists live and continue my voyage of discovery. I’ll be back next year for sure, this time with a bit more style and glitter.
For now, here’s five songs I fell in love with this year, thanks to Triple J. Remember, when I turned that car radio on just a few months ago, I had no idea if I was listening to brand new artists or to global superstars.
Stella Donnelly – Tricks.
Stella Donnelly’s album “Beware of the Dogs” was Triple J’s featured album in my first week of listening to the station. “Tricks” is the song that starts with someone going to dinner and breaking all the plates. Donnelly is unafraid to speak uncomfortable truths, delivering an album of sharply crafted lyrics to make the patriarchy squirm.
Billie Eilish – wish you were gay
How had I not heard of Billie Eilish? At the time of following her on Spotify, I discovered that this unique, sophisticated American artist was 17 years old and the 6th most streamed artist in the world! “wish you were gay” is a little more catchy and a lot less dark than many tracks on Eilish’s debut album “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP WHERE DO WE GO?”, but of course you already knew that because I’m the only person on earth who hadn’t heard of her!
Dean Lewis – 7 Minutes.
“7 Minutes” is just a perfect song to sing inappropriately loud while driving. Dean Lewis is a bloke with a guitar from Sydney, singing nice songs, also up there on the streaming charts at 200th most streamed as of today, and especially popular in Australia. Again, you probably already knew that, although I reckon he’s chasing Ed Sheeran’s fan base rather than Billie Eilish’s.
Jack River – Ballroom
Jack River’s album “Sugar Mountain’ is smooth, timeless and will eternally have a place on my summer driving playlist. Jack River is female by the way, and a strong voice behind the scenes as a co-founder of the “Electric Lady” events, which feature all-female line ups, and as an advocate for equality across the music industry.
G Flip – Drink Too Much
“I wanna get into trouble, I wanna be out ‘til lunch…” Yep, me too, G. G Flip wrote this song about a time when she tried to deal with a break up by getting wrecked way too often, and many of us have absolutely been down that road at least once. G Flip is on a fast ride from Triple J Unearthed to the big time. Pulling a big early afternoon crowd at Groovin The Moo, she had fans singing back every word before she ran to the back of the stage to rock out on her beloved drums at every opportunity.
One of the founding artists of the WE R Music label, along with Brennan Heart, Toneshifterz and Outbreak, Code Black is among the first names that springs to mind when talking about Euphoric Hardstyle.
When you consider that Corey Soljan launched his Code Black alias all the way back in 2011, it’s almost a surprise to learn that “Journey” is in fact the first Code Black studio album.
Many of the 19 tracks on “Journey” will be familiar to fans, either from Code Black’s DJ sets or from the “Chapters” EPs released over the last year. Long time friend and collaborator Toneshifterz features prominently, with guest appearances from Wasted Penguinz, Da Tweekaz, Adrenalize and more.
While predominantly Euphoric Hardstyle at heart, “Journey” also delivers a few surprises along the way.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the milestone tracks on “Journey”. [Click link below to read more...]
What happens when a filmmaker becomes best friends with an international touring DJ?
“Girl” is a documentary about female DJs, filmed mainly in the USA in the early 2000s.
“Girl” also tells a story about an outsider having her first experience of dance music culture. Kandeyce Jorden, director of “Girl”, was a complete newcomer to the scene when filming began, and this was not unusual in the USA at that time. Through spending time with Rebecca Sin, DJ Mea, DJ Colette, Lady D, DJ Rap, DJ Irene, and the film’s eventual leading lady Sandra Collins, Jorden finds herself on an unexpected personal journey. [Click link below to read more....]
5 Beautiful Dance Tracks That Make You Want To Sing Along Like No One's Listening (Even If They Are)
Of course, when you do sing along, you'll be drowning out those beautiful vocals with your caterwauling (or may that's just me), but just turn it up and sing your heart out anyway!
I’m not necessarily talking about my favourite tracks, or even about music that I regularly listen to. I’m talking about tracks that spark memories and emotions, music that grabs me and shakes me up. Don’t bother talking to me when any of these tracks are playing; I’ll be too busy ‘having a moment’.
Looking at this week’s Aria Chart, there are a few names that take me back in time.....
From The Video Vaults - Blur
I heard a passing mention of the band Blur the other day, in fact I heard that it was 25 years since Blur got together. So I decided it was time to take a little trip down Blur memory lane.
Let’s start at the beginning, or almost the beginning, with the excellent There’s No Other Way, from 1991. This video is worth watching for Damon Albarn’s hair alone. Look at it! But most importantly, just listen.
I wrote this post almost two months ago as a bit of an experiment and I’m sharing it now as a ‘pilot episode’ for the post format. Looking at the charts again this week, Robin Thicke has been at number one for eight weeks and Daft Punk are still in the top ten. Thicke’s video has received huge amounts of press attention; personally I thought it was just another why-on-earth-is-this-on-kids-TV pop video and I’d picked it fairly randomly for this post.
Nicki Ranger is a freelance writer currently based in Perth, Western Australia.
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