Live: The Streets / Hak Baker / Master Peace

UEA, Norwich November 13, 2023

by Daisy-Jude Pizey

The LCR seems more like a London nightclub as people come spewing through the doors. Spilt drinks and dinner plate eyes surround the stage when, out of nowhere, Master Peace appears.

His best song is Veronica, which sounds like a take on the early Arctic Monkeys. This is punk meets rap with a nod to Noughties indie classics, and it works well.

Master Peace kicks off the evening nicely (Picture: Adam Williams)
Master Peace kicks off the evening nicely (Picture: Adam Williams)

Hak Baker adds a touch of gentle nihilism with chilled beats, romanticising the common struggle. Declaring that “it’s nice to come to a working-class town like Norwich” prompts varied reactions, but his touch of soft acoustic and lyrical genius seems to lull everyone back into a serene state of calm.

Conundrum is the most soothing and enjoyable song of his set, reminiscent of his time in east London.

Hal Baker: A serene sense of calm (Picture: Adam Williams)
Hal Baker: A serene sense of calm (Picture: Adam Williams)

By the time The Streets take the stage, a surreal orchestral hum echoes throughout the venue. Are they full of themselves or is this about to be something extraordinary?

It’s almost 20 years since The Streets (essentially Mike Skinner) released their first No 1 album A Grand Don’t Come For Free, and the crowd seems split between those who are here purely for the nostalgia and those who have remained dedicated fans.

Extraordinary: The Streets (Picture: Adam Williams)
Extraordinary: The Streets (Picture: Adam Williams)

Skinner emerges in the flashing blue and red lights and reaches into the crowd. Opening song Don’t Mug Yourself, from debut album Original Pirate Material, is a cautionary tale disguised as a dance anthem, and you can’t help but groove to it. Maybe it’s going to be extraordinary after all…

The self-proclaimed ladykiller decides to organise the “world’s first only-female mosh pit”. Showing he hasn’t been to a punk gig in a while, Skinner suggests that the girls need to get their anger out and “pull each other’s hair”, and it turns into something of a kink spectacle for him.

It's a career-spanning set (Picture: Adam Williams)
It’s a career-spanning set (Picture: Adam Williams)

While “these women [are being] mental”, The Streets play Who’s Got The Bag, and a line of blokes watch as their partners run wild – like parents dropping their kids off at school.

All but one of The Streets’s albums are represented tonight, although the emphasis is on the early days and there are only two songs from this year’s The Darker The Shadow The Brighter The Light.

There's old and new from Mike Skinner and friends (Picture: Adam Williams)
There’s old and new from Mike Skinner and friends (Picture: Adam Williams)

(The only album not represented tonight is 2011’s Computers And Blues, which is ironic given the album cover was shot about 40 yards away from here.)

As the night draws to a close Skinner gives us the classics we all know and love. Fit But You Know It leads into Dry Your Eyes, which is the best song of the night, purely for the nostalgia and its gut-punching lyrics.

Mike Skinner: Man of the people (Picture: Adam WIlliams)
Mike Skinner: Man of the people (Picture: Adam WIlliams)

Who knew heartbreak could be so goddamn catchy?

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