The Streets @ Oxford O2 Academy – 23/02/11

It has only been 10 years since The Streets burst into the public eye with ‘Has It Come To This?’, but as you were most likely aware this year’s album Computers & Blues is to be their last. So that leaves tonight’s gig as a farewell show, to Oxford at least, but instead of a greatest hits gig, this was a full and proper show by a still very active band.

But before that, the night opens with four lads from Slough, more commonly known as Brother. They launch into a set of songs that sound like the edgy side of Oasis blended with The Ordinary Boys, but slightly less interesting. They play to a room full of people who look slightly bemused by those strange stringed instruments hanging from around their necks, but I think the choice of support band shows a subtlety of perception that Skinner & Co. have shown throughout their career.

The last time I saw The Streets they were opening for Muse and they played with a huge band, but tonight is a thoroughly different affair. The main focus of the night of course is on Mike Skinner and the great show he can put on. The band is tight and the atmosphere is intimate and warm, we are even promised cuddles at one point.

The Streets @ Oxford O2 Academy - 23/02/11

Though the hits from Original Pirate Material and A Grand Don’t Come For Free receive the greatest response, the newer material goes down well and is still very engaging. The lyrical sentiments and themes of Computer & Blues’s material do seem to have a (slightly heavy handed) finger on the pulse of the nation. Though as Skinner bounces round the stage singing of Facebook statuses, an image of man who perhaps has nothing left to say forms in my mind but it is then thoroughly dismissed by Skinner’s weighted comment of “We’re all in this together.” Mike Skinner clearly still has something to say, you just have to sit up and listen. Between this and the way the full ensemble work the crowd artfully and intelligently I end up feeling that it is definitely a shame that in the not too distant future The Streets will be no more.

However, it seems we have a while yet. During the set, cameras appear to film the performance of ‘OMG’ for “the youtubes”. The choice of setlist and clear promotional plans on the horizon all point to the fact that the band want this to be any other tour, promoting a new album, not a farewell tour. The Streets have always been a great live band and they still are; they bounce, they twist, they reinterpret and expand. At times the set feels like a DJ set; mixed and blended, and at others a live band playing around with their studio material. It’s a shame there won’t be much more from The Streets but make sure you enjoy what’s left before it’s gone.

Photography by Tomasz Ras

The Streets @ Oxford O2 Academy - 23/02/11