Streets /Goldie Lookin’ Chain/Lady Sovereign : London Astoria

Skinner still pushing things forward then? You knows it...

If there weren’t no Streets there’d almost definitely be no Lady Sovereign. An 18-year old pocket sized MC (she’s a self-declared [I]”ragga midget”[/I]) who looks like Mike Skinner’s still-teenage sweetheart, gets her jewellery from Claire’s Accessories and has hood-loads of just-been-caught-shoplifting attitude. Just check her set ending track, debut single ‘Blah Blah Blah’ (sample lyric: [I]”Blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah/In one ear and it goes straight out de uvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvva”[/I]). Less than 5 feet tall, but set for big things.

[I]”NEWPORT’S IN THE HOUSE/ NEW-NEW-NEWPORT’S IN THE HOUSE!”[/I] is how 8 piece welsh hip hop collective Goldie Lookin’ Chain announce themselves to the Astoria. Stoned on bad weed, fucked on Grolsch, decked out in shellsuits and fake designer clobber they’re the dole queue attitude of the early Happy Mondays, the Welsh Wu-Tang Clan times the Beastie Boyos. Their catchphrases are as good as anything from ‘Little Britain’ ([I]”SAFE AS FUCK!” “YOU KNOWS IT!”[/I]). They write songs about rollerskating ( ‘Rollerdisco’), about your mom ( ‘Your Mother’s Gotta Penis’) and the tales of their Bez, the collective’s lankiest, nastiest pencil-moustached member ( ‘The Maggot’). Right now eight record companies have made an offer to sign them in the hope they’re the rap Darkness. They’re not there yet, but you’d have to be a humourless twat not to find this live show entertaining. As they themselves would probably say, safe as fuck.

So if the sound of the street in 2004 is sharper than it has been for years, what about the sound of The Streets? Two years on from ‘Original Pirate Material’ is Skinner gonna do an Eminem (the person he was most compared to when he started out) and chat about being famous, his treatment at the hands of the tabloids and the people who slithered out of the shadows when he became successful? Or do a Robbie and become a sickly caricature of Englishness? Or try and follow Dizzee and get grimier?

No, no and no. A lairy, beery Skinner sorts us out five new songs tonight. There is no single overriding new direction (he hasn’t started sampling hurdy-gurdys or anything) but definite evolution. ‘Blinded By The Light’ is a pre-pill ‘Weak Become Heroes’), ‘It Was Supposed To Be So Easy’ (spooky horns, like a Specials 45 at 33 rpm) and monster ballad ‘Dry Your Eyes’ (the weepy that Chris Martin originally sung). Our two favourites though were ‘Could Well Be In’ and ’Fit But You Know It’. ‘Could Well Be In’ is classic lyrical Skinner, up there with ‘Don’t Mug Yourself’. [I]”I saw this thing on ITV the other week/That if she plays with her hair she’s probably keen/she’s playing with her hair regularly/So I reckon I could well be in[/I]” that has the same reggae feel as The Strokes ‘Under Control’.

Before new single ‘Fit But You Know It’, Skinner’s guitarist Morgan switches from bass to electric guitar, [I]”We’re officially taking a more rock direction”[/I] he winks. But there is a lot of truth in that, ‘You’re Fit But You Know It’. It’s got a glam rock feel, with another top chorus “[I]I’m not trying to pull you / even though I would like to / I think you’re really fit / You’re fit but my gosh don’t you know it?[/I]” Skinner still pushing things forward then? You knows it.

Imran Ahmed