The Manor are a fitting warm up act for The Streets – high energy, nostalgically 2000s vibes and lyrical content that takes the crowd from pre-drinks in someone’s flat, to Ibiza in just one set. The sticky carpeted floors of Brixton Academy are a good venue for this, too, with anticipation ramping up on the steeped floor that runs down to the stage. Running on, The Manor yell “The Streets are our heroes, we can’t wait to see them and it’s an honour to support.”
Opening with ‘Sesh’ the three-piece jump around the stage. The performance is lyrically tight, with the crowds rowdy dancing leaving anyone clutching a pint fearing for the future of their drink. ‘Sesh’ is reminiscent of the wave that early-days Dizzy Rascal rode on. This is followed by ‘Don’t like going places’ and Manchester club scene-inspired ‘Hacienda’, which is a bit mellower.
Stand-out hit ‘How you feelin?’ gives the set a different pace, taking the band from drinks, to club, to perhaps a regretful day after. It picked up again with ‘Yeah you’ and ‘Out ere’ giving Manor momentum into the final tracks.
Obviously already wishing that summer would hurry up and get here, the smooth and dancey ‘Ibiza’ and SL2’s ‘On a ragga tip’ are a fitting end to a fun, charged and slightly scrappy set.
When The Streets come on the crowd are sufficiently warmed up. This run of shows has emerged after a 2018 comeback where Mike Skinner ended a seven-year hiatus from touring with the band. Not many artists could sell out a five-night run at the Brixton Academy without a whole lot of new material, but he has done near just that.
‘Turn the page’ opens the set, harking back to the beginning of the band’s ascent in 2002, moving swiftly into ‘Let’s push things forward’. This has a weird twist. Skinner is stood on a black box on stage, dressed all in black. The familiar rush of people heading to the front signals it’s going to be exciting. However, stating that this is being filmed for “future generations”, it seems the venue is a set up for a VR experiment. Not content with the night being documented on 1,000 camera phones, he keeps reiterating that the crowd must go crazy because of this gimmick throughout the set. It seems to be happening at the expense of the crowd rather than for them.
‘Same old thing’ follows ‘Push things forward’, and is tight as ever. Skinner is giving the crowd what they want; the hits. It’s pitch perfect – like listening to the record. Original Pirate Material seems to be being regurgitated with ‘Sharp darts’ and ‘Don’t mug yourself’ coming up next.
He rattles through other hits, ‘Geezers need excitement’, ‘Too much brandy’ and ‘Going through hell’ chatting to the audience throughout. A consummate showman, he notes he can smell weed, warning those breaking the rules not to get caught, or worse thrown out. He also encourages female crowd surfers, as though that’s not a thing that already happens.
The end of the set is a change of tempo, with ‘The escapist’ and chart topper ‘Dry your eyes’ before an encore of tracks like ‘Boys will be boys’ and ‘Weak become heroes’.
An encore and euphoric end sees the crowd go wild, hurling cups and tops to the tune of ‘Blinded by the lights / Pranging out’ and the ultimate Streets classic ‘Fit but you know it’. It was an accomplished set and a one-stop tour of all the classics, but could have done without the VR gimmick.
Skinner combined with The Manor as a support makes the night nostalgic, laddy and lairy. The Streets clearly captured a moment in British music that will continue to inspire artists in the capital for years.
Eliot Simpson | PHOTOGRAPHY
Lucy Harley-McKeown | WRITER