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The Streets with Sway & Professor Green @ The Guildhall, Southampton...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, May 11, 2006
Mike Skinner stopped off at the Southampton Guildhall with his brand of booze, birds and more booze as part of his national tour to promote his third album, The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living. The Streets are a marketing guys wet dream, as geezers draped in Fred Perry shared floor space with chavs, young girls and hipsters, while a couple of people went as far as to pay homage to Skinners Miami Vice look.

Before he could take the stage though you couldn't have asked for a better two artists to warm the crowd. Jump Off legend and newly signed to The Beats label, Professor Green came out to 'R They Rappin like Pro' and ran through a couple of numbers. Unbeknown to many in the crowd he managed to win them over with his version of the familiar When You Wasn't Famous, while the raw funk of the Skinner produced Stereotypical man ended his short but very professional set. You can expect to see a lot of the guy in the future and under Skinners wing, he'll have the perfect tutor.

If Skinner is a marketing mans dream, then Sway is a one man marketing machine. Even after the mixtape hustle he hasn't rested on his laurels now his long player is out. In between songs and at the end of his performance he was passing out album samplers, keen to catch the attention of new fans and those that may have slept on This Is My Demo.

And if they had, then they would surely be picking up a copy after a professional 40 minute set. It's evident that the man Sway has been touring for a while now and his stage presence and chemistry between DJ Turkish had that of a veteran. After his own countrywide tour and being the main support act for The Streets tour and soon to be supporting indie darlings Hard-Fi there is plenty of opportunity to pick up some more fans.

The feel good celebration of city life on Products and the comical tales of credit woe Flo Fashion had hands waving. Then when MC Hammers Can't Touch This kicked in Sway had the Guildhall doing their best karaoke rendition. Between tracks we were treated to a freestyle with inspiration thrown from the crowd and an acapella of Download. To end a set that flew by so quickly we had the anthemic Up Your Speed, complete with its own Southampton recognition. I doubt it will be long until Sway is headlining his own shows in buildings as big as the Guildhall.

With two well received warm-up acts it was onto the main event. With mug of tea in hand the former Burberry clad image was replaced with his Miami Vice chic look. The contrast in look is the same as the focus on material output now. From reciting nights down the boozer to chasing girls on his first album Original Pirate Material to the present day of life in the fast lane the response has been mixed.

Some of the newer material like Prangin Out, tonight's opener, complain about the new life in the public eye but sits well alongside earlier and well received material. The rousing Don't Mug Yourself had Skinner and the crowd running on the spot while the ska tinged Let's Push Things Forward had Skinner claiming Leo The Lion to be the 2nd best soul singer in the UK. Number 2 behind the locally born Craig David, who had performed only a few nights previously and was on the end of some banter from Skinner.

The first single from the new album When You Wasn't Famous brags about finding it hard to pull a famous girl, but he clearly enjoys the ease in which he can now pull the non-celebs with and was constantly getting his roadie to pass drinks to the girls and the crowd. By the end of the show he had enough of a collection of girls tops to start his own shop. The gig took a turn in pace with the father dedicated, new single Never Went To Church before getting back into the more appreciated Blinded By The Lights.

At the end the crowd turned in unison to the chorus of the slow Radio 2 play listed Dry your Eyes, not much of a favourite but responsible for the move from style mag exclusiveness to tabloid fodder. He ended on a high with the holiday anthem Fit But You Know It and strutted off to mass screams and shouts. His stock has risen and is now more popular than ever, but he's always been an artist who've either loved or hate. His style hasn't changed but the material has. His next move will be to see if he can maintain peoples interest in him as he moves onto future albums. On evidence of tonight, he shouldn't find it too hard finding an audience, but to what type it will be is an interesting one.


Matt Payne said... @ 12:45 AM

Good review, when you get a sec check the new roots track...

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