The Streets: Dreamland, Margate

Frank Leppard Photography.

Frank Leppard Photography.The Streets
Dreamland, Margate
8th September 2023

Mike Skinner made a triumphant return to Margate as The Streets played a blistering, hit-laden, set to the 7,000-strong crowd gathered in Dreamland’s brilliantly restored heritage theme park. Under the arches of the UK’s oldest wooden roller coaster, and just a stone’s throw from the glorious sandy beaches and seafront arcades, Mike Skinner and his trusty crew lit up The Scenic Stage with heady beats and beloved bangers.

On one of the hottest days of the year so far, just as throngs of people were starting to make their way home from a perfect day at the seaside, Dreamland flung open its gates to welcome the thousands who’d come to see The Streets. There was a party atmosphere that permeated through the whole evening, even before a chord was played. Neon spades, flashing sunglasses, technicolour light sabers, cheeky cocktails and exotic tobacco helped fuel the fire and send Planet Thanet wild.

West Yorkshire’s emerging spoken word artist Emmeline got the party started as the crowds began to gather. In the looming shadow of the Big ‘D’, beside the candy floss stall and in view of the ever popular dodgems, Emmeline took to the stage like she was meant to be there. Dressed in Adidas T’ and trainers, Emmeline strutted up and down the length of the stage as she treated her ever more encouraging audience to songs, old and new. During a 30-minute set, Emmeline and her Fraser T Smith (Kano/Stormzy/Dave etc) co-produced backing track, engaged the cool and the curious with her vocal dexterity and lyrical prowess. ‘Sabrina’, ‘The Dance’, ‘Dazed and Confused’, new track ‘Wasteland’ and finally her biggest song to date, ‘Girls Write Rhymes’ set the vibe for the night.

DJ and producer Zed Bias was up next with a rather lacklustre and uninspired set that included a Drum and Bass Sade intro and a Florence and The Machine mid-point mash-up. Kojey Radical’s DJ, Eli, was almost nudging him off stage as he set up for an altogether more animated and articulate act.

Short-listed Mercury Music Prize nominee(2022), hip-hop artist and contender for “East London’s finest”, Kojey Radical, had “overcome adversity” to be on stage as the penultimate act ahead of The Streets. “I got stung by a bee”, “I almost broke my shoulder”, “I caught a cold” and “I almost lost my voice” Kojey explained to the impressive crowd gathered before him. Despite all of these factors, Luther VanKojey put on a pumped-up and energised show that whipped the Margate massive into a sweltering lather. From the off Kojey was jumping up and down, moonwalking across the stage, off the stage and into the crowd and even at one point instigating a sing-a-long to “oggy, oggy, oggy”. Old favourite ‘Water’, and brand new single ‘Bad For Business’ built the momentum until the explosive finale of ‘Payback’ capped off an energetic and entertaining performance.

Shortly after 9:15pm, as the packed out crowd were chanting his name in unison, Mike Skinner, and The Streets, dressed modestly in plain black T’ and shorts, strode onto the stage like a legendary prize fighter about to enter the ring. He immediately tore into firm favourite, Turn The Page, at the same time as up ending his two monitors, one of which he would use as a podium, and one of which would become an impromptu picnic table. The “45th generation Roman” had arrived and the crowd were headed for a new high.

The Streets set list was an inspired collection of classic hits and crowd-pleasing touchstones. Skinner was only on track three, Let’s Push Things Forward, before he was off stage and in the faces of his adoring audience. “I have to sing this song, I’m gonna be around for like a little while, and then maybe we can have a conversation, but I do need to do this” he quipped to an enthusiastic lady by the barrier who was trying to chat to him. “The tickets weren’t cheap you see, and if I just stand and talk to you..” he carried on in faux frustration!

Has It Come To This was neatly segued into I Wish You Loved You As Much As You Love Him and then again into Wrong Answers Only where Skinner, atop his podium speaker kicked a football into the mesmerised crowd to symbolise Brexit, a subject he wouldn’t let go all night.

“I need food” Skinner told the audience. “And when I say food, I mean food, not drugs, I’m starving, haven’t eaten all day”. He surveyed the many and varied takeaways available around the perimeter, calling them out as he went anti-clockwise, “Wood fired pizza, cheesy chips, caviar…”. Eventually, he was rewarded with a tray of chips to satisfy his cravings.

The heat of the day had barely dissipated into the evening as The Streets ramped up the energy on stage and the crowd below reciprocated accordingly. Space, fresh air, and any hint of a cooling breeze were at a premium towards the front of the gig as Troubled Waters gave way to the magnificence of Weak Become Heroes. As Skinner started to sing – “turn left up the street, nothing but concrete and dead beats” and the piano loop kicked in, it was just like being transported back to 2002 again to revel in the game-changing sound that the Streets had just dropped. Too Much Yaya and Mike (Desert Island Duvet) set up a raucous Fit But You Know It to close out the main set in style.

The Streets returned quickly for a three-track encore that included the emotionally charged Dry Your Eyes, a sing-a-long to Blinded By The Lights and at the very, very end, Take Me As I Am. Four years since his last visit, on the day of the Brexit vote apparently, Mike Skinner and The Streets made the most of the opportunity they were given to entertain and delight. The crowd, to a wo/man, were buzzing after witnessing a very special show, delivered with enthusiasm, energy and honesty in a fantastic and unique live space.


You can find The Streets at their Facebook and Twitter

All Words by Andrew Lockwood, this is his first piece of writing for Louder Than War.

Photo by Frank Leppard Photography, provided by Dreamland

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