Enter Shikari (9) have always loved doing stuff their way. Tonight sees them play a venue that, whilst not being the smallest place they ever done, is tiny when you compare it to the venues they could be filling out instead, like the 3,000 capacity Roundhouse they’ve sold out twice over later on this tour. Why? Because they love playing intimate spaces – there’s probably not even a thousand people present tonight. Second, they’ve given fans a real value-for-money package by bringing three support bands along and, as ever, they allow the people who have waited since silly o’clock in the morning in for their soundcheck before meeting them too.
As for the gig itself, you have to feel sorry for Glasgow’s Fatherson (6); their brand of alt, indie rock is more suited to a slot supporting Kings Of Leon than the electronic driven synth-metal of tonight’s headliners. As a result, they’re playing to the wrong sort of audience and garner little more than lukewarm applause. It is a shame, because they seem a genuine bunch of guys and are great musicians – they’re just quite out of place tonight. Still, they do better than Allusondrugs (3) who have been blessed with an utter tool of a frontman that undermines pretty much everything they do tonight. Again, the potential is there – a rather unique blend of psychedelia and grunge that threatens to take your mind to another dimension – but all anyone can do is stand and watch their singer try to get everyone to shout ‘herpes’ and, generally, make a right prat of himself. Allusondrugs? Seems like it was only him…
Next to Lee Tobin of Feed the Rhino (8) as well, it’s an utter embarrassment. Tobin comes on stage and immediately decides he doesn’t have enough space, so takes the only logical option and stands up on the barrier (and then onto the shoulder of yours truly). Finally, the touch paper is lit and from the openings of Behind the Pride right through to New Wave the floor doesn’t stop moving, with more band members in the audience than on stage at times. It’s utterly brutal and the Wall of Death halfway through is the size of the room. There’s even a ‘jumpdafuckup’ moment which, whilst not being quite to the magnitude of Slipknot’s, still gets everyone riled and jumping like lunatics. If ever there were a band guaranteed to throw shapes and get things going, Feed the Rhino are definitely there.
Of course, most people don’t go a gig for the opening acts, and as Enter Shikari walk on and begin The Appeal and the Mindsweep I the place goes absolutely berserk. The album’s been out just under a month and already everyone knows the words to Rou Reynold’s ‘appeal to the struggling and striving’, which isn’t the easiest thing to get your head around. Destabilise, quite appropriately, causes the place to erupt once more and the momentum just keeps going through Radiate and into Gandhi Mate, Gandhi where we get the first two ‘moments’ of the evening: Shikari shows are littered with them, the one-liners that everyone knows and screams with utter conviction, and there’s nothing more satisfying than having a roomful of people shout “We’re sick of this shit!” and “Yabba-dabba-do one son!” as loud as they can. The new material is stunning, from a jaw-dropping rendition of The Last Garrison through to another ‘moment’ in Anaesthetist: it’s rather fun yelling ‘You fucking spanner!’ as loud as possible.
The evening does take a slight dip in energy when Rou’s soundboard suffers a minor powercut halfway through but it’s followed by the biggest sing-a-long of the night for Mothership, which just goes to show that, despite their ever changing sound, there’s still a rightful place in the set for the raw power and crunch of their ‘Take to the Skies’ material (hard to believe it’s eight years old, right?). The encore is equally as diverse, going from the emotion of Dear Future Historians…. to the utter bedlam and silliness of bonus track Slipshod; again, the sound of everyone singing ‘Get me the manager!’ is a sight to behold. To round things off, a little trip back to ‘A Flash Flood of Colour’ and Sssnakepit, which appropriately sums up this gig from the punter’s viewpoint – they came, they joined the party, they left anxieties behind and they helped turn Cardiff’s Y Plas into a huge box of sweat and voices. If you are seeing Enter Shikari on this tour, you are in for something very special indeed.
Enter Shikari setlist
The Appeal & The Mindsweep I
Gandhi Mate, Gandhi
The Last Garrison
Never Let Go of the Microscope
The Paddington Frisk
Dear Future Historians…