As Mike Skinner departed a Liverpool stage for the final time under the bracket of The Streets, it was clear to all present that it was truly the end of an era in British rap music.
When The Streets first exploded onto the UK garage scene in 2001 with their first single 'Has It Come To This', few expected Skinner to hit the groundbreaking highs he went on to achieve.
Ten years, five studio albums and countless successful single releases later, Skinner addressed a Liverpool crowd, perched on the middle monitor in the centre of the stage, by saying: “Thank you so much for the massive support over the last ten years.”
He then went on to deliver a performance consisting of the same swagger that was apparent from his early releases but was now infused with an undeniably experienced stage presence.
The opening track was ‘Trust Me’, a great track to get the party vibe started with a funky baseline paired up with a groovy lead guitar.
Skinner then went briskly back to the beginning of his
musical journey by rapidly increasing the energy levels
with ‘Don’t Mug Yourself’, which was linked into ‘Let’s
Push Things Forward’ with a live drum and bass
interlude, highlighting The Streets’ connection with
the UK’s underground sounds.
Skinner then showed his variation, performing
sing-a-long songs such as ‘Dry Your Eyes’ and the
lyrically brilliant ‘Too Late’.
It was clear that Skinner’s older material was closer
to the hearts of those inside the Liverpool 02 Academy
than perhaps material from his fourth album, but one
of his most recent tracks, ‘Omg’, also went down well.
The track is the perfect shop window for ‘Computers and Blues’ with its up-tempo drums and soft R&B vocals, which are reminiscent of The Streets’ second album ‘A Grand Don’t Come for Free’.
Throughout the gig Skinner showcased his brilliant stage presence - with a click of his finger he had the whole crowed squatting to the floor before getting them to explode just as ‘Blinded by the Lights’ seeped through the speakers.
After the encore, Skinner and his supporting band returned to play the atmospheric ‘Turn the Page’ alongside his most popular track, ‘Fit But You Know It’, before attempting a mediocre stage dive.
When the 32-year-old, who broke down barriers for acts such as The Mitchell Brothers, Lily Allen, Dizzee Rascal and Plan B, waved farewell, it signalled the end of the road for a brilliant British artist who had continually pushed things forward.
By Callum Reece, Music Editor
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Frontman Skinner had the crowd in his hands on the band's final performance in Liverpool (Pics Vegard Grott)
Skinner thanked fans for their 'massive support'
(Pics Vegard Grott)