“Nobody likes a party pooper. No. Body. Likes. A. Party. Pooper.” I've never intentionally pooped a party in my life so, at the behest of Mike Skinner, I sit my arse on the floor along with the rest of Newcastle Academy. The venue's number includes a shirtless chav, a diminutive fellow of around 5ft. Judging by his chin-swing and incredibly sweaty torso, what he lacks in size he compensates for in ecstasy consumption. Oh, yeah, and he's accidentally – and obliviously – sitting on my knee, smearing his back sweat across my chops as he violently throws his arms from side to side.
Not to worry, as soon as the beat to Weak Become Heroes kicks in we're all up and moshing in unison; I'm not going to let a little thing like an impromptu pikey lap dance spoil the last ever Streets gig.
You see, The Streets are my new favourite band. I haven't just discovered them, or anything, I've been a fan since Original Pirate Material – one of my favourite albums of all time – and I've seen Skinner live countless time. But it's only just dawned on me how much of a fanboy I actually am.
As much as I like Oasis, I was a bit young to really immerse myself in the whole Britpop shtick of their prime. I would have loved to swagger around in a baggy Ben Sherman shirt, perpetually pissed with a cocaine halo around my hooter, don't get me wrong, but I don't think my primary school would've stood for it.
Then there's The Libertines: flouncing around in a gravy-stained vest, quoting Blake with deluded notions of Albion – not for me, that.
Skinner's crowd interaction keeps proceedings in top gear, though, as we're encouraged to smoke weed, lambasted for smoking Lambert & Butler and told: “It is possible to catch a drink in midair... especially in Newcastle”
More recently, Arctic Monkeys turned apathetic music-buying youths into obsessive zealots: “All I need is a guitar, some words, like, about my life and stuff, my fat mate on drums and I, too, could end up porking a bird from T4.”
The needlessly verbose point I'm trying to make, here, is that I always thought I was above such fanatical behaviour – sneering at my mates as they brag about some rare 7-inch Libs single they own, that Doherty gave them “personally,” which has his sweat/blood/semen on it.
Then I heard the news that Skinner's calling it a day. I was gutted. Remember all that news footage from the '90s of distraught teenage girls, balling their eyes out after hearing that Take That had broke up? Well it was nothing like that, but it was upsetting enough for me to change my Facebook AND Twitter profile picture to photo of a disillusioned Mike. Poignant, eh? (I was pissed when I did it and felt I had to stand by my actions by claiming it was some sort of tribute when, in truth, I realise it's just a bit creepy.)
Coming to terms with the fact that mine and Mike's relationship is in its death throes, I got stuck into his back-catalogue; not just Original Pirate Material and A Grand Don't Come For Free, which are ever-presents on my iPod, but The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living, where he went a bit wanky because of all the coke, c'leb culture and that; Everything Is Borrowed, in which he forgoes the references to modern culture that define him; and even 2010's lesser-known Cyberspace and Reds, a collection of recordings made of tracks finished after completing work on his final album – and return to his very best form – Computers and Blues.
I also realised I'd amassed an unnecessarily large collection of Streets pins, lighters, keyrings, T-shirts, ticket stubs, after show party flyers and all kinds of other merch. I'm a fanboy, for sure, how did I not know?
The chav contingent at the front hug each other during the tracks that become doubly emotional under tonight's circumstances.
Admitting that I'm just as geeky for Skinner as my Doherty-diehard mates are about the Libertines, I give them a pre-gig warning: “I might shed a tear here, lads.”
Turns out the final stop on the last ever Streets tour is going to be more of a celebration than a mourning. After first track Outside Inside is rattled through with gusto, a monitor is upturned for Skinner to stand on and survey the crowd gathered for his funeral. “I will have a double brandy and coke,” he shouts to the bemused bar staff. “I'll come and get it later.”
The set continues, heavy with bangers from his first outing: Don’t Mug Yourself, Let’s Push Things Forward, Sharp Darts, Who Dares Wins and Blinded By The Lights. The chav contingent at the front hug each other during the tracks that become doubly emotional under tonight's circumstances: We Can Never Be Friends, OMG, Dry Your Eyes Mate and Never Went To Church.
Skinner's crowd interaction keeps proceedings in top gear, though, as we're encouraged to smoke weed, lambasted for smoking Lambert & Butler and told: “It is possible to catch a drink in midair... especially in Newcastle,” as vodkas are hurled into the crowd.
New tune Going Through Hell and lads-on-the-piss-on-the-pull-on-the-Costa anthem Fit But You Know It draws the night's greatest cheer, mosh and gurns. For his final trick, he crowd surfs to the bar and quaffs that double brandy and coke he's been after all night, before being passed back to the stage. The crowd go mental. His band guffaw encouragement. And I swoon like a schoolgirl as he passes overhead.
And that's it. It's all over. The last ever Streets gig. Done. On my way out of the venue I pass the little lunatic who unwittingly parked his arse on my lap. He doesn't recognise me, but I think he sums up the performance, the career, the pertinence, the significance, the connection and the effect that Mike Skinner has had on us, not only tonight, but for the past 10 years, more poetically than I ever could. “That was class, that like,” he shouts in his Geordie brogue, pulling a soaking wet T-shirt from the crotch of his jeans, “Proper class. I fucking love him... I just want to... I want to get fucked, now!”
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