The Streets / Sway - Manchester Apollo - 27.4.06

 “I go by the name of Sway and I represent the whole of the UK.”

This is the virtue extolled by the hip/hop duo Sway (Ed: Technically a one man show, but props to his MC), who immediately with their caustic rhymes, rumbling beat box and synth fuelled combos deliver a package of urban styling that is easier to open than that proffered by others of this ilk. The Dizzee Rascal dusted ‘Slow Down’, from the up and at ‘em spirited album ‘This Is My Demo’, sees Sway Dasafo’s biting urbanity reach a peak. The vocally swaggering humour of this artist is certainly not bought on tick, as ‘Flo Fashion’ is performed with tongue in cheek humour about the fast life being indulged by credit cards. The crowd were drawn into the set by several catchy, complete my phrase games, such as ‘I say Sway in, you say Manchester’. The serious underbelly to Sway is flashed unashamedly towards the end in ‘Download’, where the audience receive a sharp, but well intentioned castigation for downloading albums and not purchasing them.

The trappings of the showbiz life permeate the build up to The Streets’ entrance, as it is stretched out to over ten minutes passed the customary 30 minutes before a sleekly dressed Skinner bounds on in a suave white suit jacket. However, second song in he manages to return to the accessibly mundane style he made his mark with, diving into the buoyantly performed first album growler ‘Don’t Mug Yourself’. He serenades a girl on the front row with a gritty snippet of ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor’ and then steps aside for his sidekick Leo to melt her soul, with a deep version of 'The Don’t Cha' by The Pussycat Dolls. The theme of soul over grit continues with the meandering 2nd album lament ‘Blinded By The Lights’.

Just when you feel that Skinner is losing touch with his bemused, simple roots, he delves into his heart and produces the shivering ‘Never Went To Church’ that features on the new album 'The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living'. This valediction to his father is a captivating show of Skinner’s ability to reach his soul and hold it aloft for everyone to see. ‘Dry Your Eyes’ made for a popular ending to a showy main set. After a few minutes of battery recharging, Skinner straddles a chopper and rides around the stage to the backing of a beat bolstered instrumental version of ‘Land Of Hope And Glory’. Judging by the reaction of the crowd, this number would top many a poll for being an alternative England World Cup anthem. The leery laddie ‘Fit But You Know It’ is coated with soul and seems to lose a bit of its bite, but still ensures that a popular finale is completed. Skinner does appear to be caught in the void between his hard hitting, no frills roots and the luxurious existence afforded by the trappings of stardom.

Dave Adair
Photos: Shirlaine Forrest

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