On release, ‘Original Pirate Material’ sounded fresh, like nothing else. A highly influential debut that has stood the test of time, it was swiftly followed up by The Streets’ classic ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’.
Three albums later, Mike Skinner bowed out in 2011. Eight years on, does he still have the same charm?
A buoyant crowd packs out the O2 Academy and greets him like a hero. For 90 minutes the crowd are his team, “Sheffield Tuesday”, hanging on to every command as he makes eye contact, one player at a time.
Favourites are rolled out from the start; it’s quickly 5 - 0 to ‘Original Pirate Material’, stamina and energy is high. Past his best? No! He’s back with new skills, teasing a crowd with just a few stares, continually hyping them up, preparing to drop the beat. He understands how to balance a set of bangers, heartfelt anthems and banter.
‘Dry Your Eyes’, ‘Never Went To Church’ and ‘Stay Positive’ are delivered with emotion while chaos erupts with ‘Don’t Mug Yourself’, ‘Heaven For The Weather’ and set closer ‘Fit But You Know It’. Mike Skinner remains that likeable lad who you can rely on for a good time: at one point he gives a crowd member £11 to get him a 2 pinter of Guinness from the bar. Which he downs.
The AltaVista spoken of in ‘Let’s Push Things Forward’ might be out of date but ‘Original Pirate Material’ is timeless as Sheffield Tuesday find themselves begging for extra time.
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When Mike Skinner reunited The Streets, he could’ve cashed his cheque and quit. Instead, he’s got a mixtape, album and film on the way. We meet the certified legend who’s still pushing things forward.