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?
Nicki Ranger is a freelance writer currently based in Perth, Western Australia.
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