The Streets at South Facing Festival: celebratory, silly and absolutely heroic

August 22, Crystal Palace Bowl: Mike Skinner is back in his rightful place, headlining two nights in south London with lots of champagne and even more joy

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It’s been a long road to seeing The Streets back in their rightful place and headlining UK festivals. There was the cancelled car park tour of summer 2020, followed by a blazing livestreamed set-slash-rowdy performance art piece at EartH in east London. And then there was Mike Skinner’s DIY anthem ‘Who’s Got The Bag (21st June)’, released in March to ramp up excitement for the fabled ‘Freedom Day’ – and we all know how that ended.

But now we are here, in a slightly overcast Crystal Palace Park at South Facing Festival, a two-night showcase for one of this century’s most joyful sonic innovators. For Skinner, there’s only one way to celebrate properly, and that’s with lots and lots – and lots – of champagne. When he’s not jumping up and down on the monitors or explaining why he won’t be jumping into the moat surrounding the stage (which he insists was built by Bob Marley), he’s shaking up endless bottles of bubbly and spraying them over the crowd like Lewis Hamilton on a ginormous victory lap.

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On soggy ground, the audience greet Skinner’s every word with raptures and he delivers nothing but the hits, ‘Fit But You Know It’ and ‘Don’t Mug Yourself’ becoming sing-along standards, while the somewhat more downbeat ‘It’s Too Late’ and ‘Dry Your Eyes’ don’t for one moment hamper the huge grins plastered across everyone’s faces.

It’s rare that an artist who is coming up to celebrating 20 years since their debut single – ‘Has It Come To This?’ first dropped back in October 2001 – finds their most recent song the biggest hit of a show, but that’s just what happens when ‘Who’s Got The Bag (21st June)’ – a club banger with a sense of humour as well as a spicy political take – is unleashed.

Yet there is a kind of poetry among the partying, too. During a dizzying ‘Blinded by The Lights’ Skinner talks of “immortality via Instagram” and at one point instigates an women-only crowdsurfing rule, bringing a touch of riot grrrl ‘girls to the front’ attitude to the normally laddish pursuit of gliding over a mosh pit assisted only by the hands of strangers.

Credit: Getty

Despite his majestic control of the stage, this isn’t just the Mike Skinner show. He brings Greentea Peng, who performed earlier, on for last year’s collaboration ‘I Wish You Loved You As Much As You Love Him’ and Rob Harvey’s guitar and soulful vocals provide a meditative bed to Skinner’s boundless energy. We’ve waited a long time for this celebratory, silly and absolutely heroic show – but my gosh, it’s worth it.

The Streets played

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‘Turn the Page’

‘Let’s Push Things Forward’

‘Don’t Mug Yourself’

‘Has It Come to This?’

‘It’s Too Late’

‘Stay Positive’

‘Dry Your Eyes’

‘21st June (Who’s got the bag)’

‘Weak Become Heroes’

‘Blinded by the Lights’

‘Fit But You Know It’

‘Take Me as I Am’

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