They’re headlining the second stage at Download Festival this year, they’re on the bill at Glastonbury and they’ve sold out London’s Hammersmith Apollo. And yet, here they are on a UK tour playing venues that have no more than a capacity of 600. But then, Enter Shikari (9) have never been a band to play by the rules – something made even more apparent by the small fact that they’re playing on a seaside pier in Weston-Super-Mare this evening. Even I’ve never heard of that before now, and I’ve been to a gig on a converted boat. Nevertheless, I had very high hopes for the evening – the St. Albans quartet were the first major band I saw live in 2007 and I was very excited to be ending the three-and-a-half year gap between seeing them last and now.
Tonight’s encounter was started by Attention Thieves (8), whose no-nonsense hard rock sound went down well with a very sizeable audience. They wasted no time in getting the first pits of the evening started and their energy was abundant in many places, which was very impressive to see. Highlights of the set were Bring Yourself to Justice and closing song You’ll Be the First One, and I have no doubt that these guys will be around for many years to come – the potential for them to pull crowds twice the size of tonight under their own steam is a huge possibility.
Next were Hacktivist (7), a band very similar to Enter Shikari in the sense that they combine many different music genres into one mixing pot and shake up a thoroughly entertaining cocktail that includes rap, metal and the added novelty of two frontmen, who bounced off each other brilliantly. Once more, the energy they had was huge and the pits only grew bigger and faster. A small criticism is that, despite the venue having a fantastic sound system, hearing the lyrics themselves was a bit of a task, but that doesn’t take away from the excellence of new single Elevate and the exceptional cover of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Niggas in Paris. Again, another band to watch out for in the future, they pack a lot of promise.
And then, the headliners themselves. Oh my word. As they mentioned mid-set, the tour was a celebration of the band having been around for a whole decade, and they certainly gave everyone present a night to remember. Beginning with System… and …Meltdown from A Flash Flood of Colour, they turned the floor into a seething mass of bodies that just didn’t let up from start to finish. All the big numbers were here – Mothership, Sorry You’re Not A Winner, Gandhi Mate, Gandhi – it was one hit after another. New single The Paddington Frisk was also a success, the 76-second long track delivered with as much fire and punch as a well-aimed petrol bomb. They even found time to play on the indoor amusements. Nope, that’s not a lie – during The Jester, bassist Chris Batten went missing. Not for long though, as he was hoisted up into the air on the freefall ride and slowly made his way back to the ground, all the while still playing. Later on, the band treated the audience to All Eyes on the Saint, a song they hadn’t played live before the tour, and this saw vocalist Rou Reynolds sing the entire song from the top of the Merry-Go-Round at the back of the hall. Never again will we see someone mosh whilst standing between Goofy and Minnie Mouse.
An encore of Arguing With Thermometers and Zzzonked provided a huge end to the evening, and when all was said and done I left knowing that I had seen one of the most exciting UK acts of the last ten years do what they do best: turn venues into dust.
Rou Reynolds – vocals, electronics
Rory Clewlow – guitars, vocals
Chris Batten – bass, vocals
Rob Rolfe – drums, vocals
Enter Shikari setlist (introductions in italics)
4) Sorry, You’re Not A Winner
5) Gandhi Mate, Gandhi
6) The Feast
7) The Jester
8) The Paddington Frisk
10) Havok B
11) All Eyes On The Saint
14) Arguing With Thermometers