O2 Academy Birmingham ★★★★★
THERE’S no place like home — a point UK garage pioneer Mike Skinner proved and then some in the first of three sold-out homecoming shows with The Streets.
The earliest hits in The Streets’ illustrious back catalogue of geezer poetry (which straddled 2002 to 2011) were recorded in a self-built sound booth in the bedroom of a south Birmingham flat. Thus there was no shortage of Brummie love as the band kicked off what’s been billed as part two of their comeback tour. Skinner controlled and coordinated his crowd like some kind of transcendent conductor throughout this boozy 90-minute set.
The orchestral Turn The Page, the opener to the band’s witty and heartbreaking debut Original Pirate Material (which on its release marked Skinner out as a strikingly original new voice), kicked off the night; the likes of Let’s Push Things Forward and Don’t Mug Yourself followed in quick succession, effortlessly whipping the already frenetic crowd into further frenzy. Club anthem Blinded By The Lights and the everyman honesty of Dry Your Eyes both incited the inevitable emotional singalongs. No dry eyes here.
But the most explosive moment came as The Streets returned for their encore, with Swindon rapper Grim Sickers joining Skinner for Open The Till and Birmingham grime artist Jaykae linking up on Boys Will Be Boys.
Ending on Fit But You Know It, a topless Skinner dived into the crowd with such celebratory energy that his surfing was to produce a dislocated shoulder by the end of the weekend. There really is a hard way to make an easy living.