St Albans-based four-piece Enter Shikari brought their astounding live show to Manchester as part of their biggest headline tour to date and it’s safe to say they brought the house down.
The night begins with The King Blues, who have recently made a comeback after almost four years out of the limelight. The London boys offer a delightful mix of reggae and ska influences, with a bit of angsty punk thrown in for good measure. They put on a fantastic show playing with a massive amount of energy and passion. The band are a perfect opener for Enter Shikari, with a political rant from frontman Itch against fascism and the EDL march, which was due to take place the following Saturday after the gig, fitting it seamlessly with the night’s headliners. The ultimate highlight of their set is closing song ‘Off with Their Heads,’ which was released 12th February as the title track of a seven song EP; as Itch screams the opening lyric, “Guess who’s back and pissed off again?,” the energy in the room uplifts alongside the undoubtedly controversial yet strangely satisfying track, which comments on the current democratic climate. The King Blues are not afraid to engage in debate about the government, which makes their live set and the band themselves all the more exciting.
The Wonder Years are up next and, put bluntly, they are a bit of a strange choice for this tour. Overtly and generically pop punk, they’re certainly not an obvious choice to support Shikari. Regardless, the band gets the crowd going massively, earning themselves the title of getting the first crowd surfer of the evening in the process. This evening, The Wonder Years have a small cluster of fans present who scream every word to their set, proving their belonging on stage.
The headline act finally thunder onto the stage, the culmination of the backing track vocal which could be heard counting down the minutes until their Manchester debut. Playing to a packed-out old warehouse converted into a music venue, they blast through a mixture of old songs and new alike, from crowd favourite ‘Sorry You’re Not a Winner’ to more recent hits ‘Redshift’ and ‘Anaesthetist.’
The highlight of the set is frontman Rou Reynolds’ venture into the crowd, making his way towards a makeshift stage near the sound desk to perform heartfelt, soft renditions of ‘Dear Future Historians…’ and ‘Juggernauts,’ featuring piano and trumpet; yes, trumpet. He’s a truly innovative performer, who has clearly thought of adding different dimensions and layers to the bands’ live set on this tour.
Enter Shikari released their fourth studio album The Mindsweep over a year ago, in January 2015, and on this tour, they’ve finally hit some arena sized venues, an achievement they have arguably deserved for years gone by now.
It would be easy to assume that in this technology-driven day and age, it’s hard to imagine a band doing anything interesting and unique, but Enter Shikari are 100% one of the most innovative live bands out there. Their creative outlook on every aspect of their performance is truly a spectacle; their visuals accompany each song perfectly, and were planned and designed by the band themselves, making the experience all the more impressive.
Enter Shikari have been an independent band on their own label for many years now, a fact which makes this set both a treat and an inspiration to watch; it goes to show that you don’t have to be signed to a major label to be successful, something which the band have proved tirelessly time and time again.