“This is a hobby that got well out of hand,” laughs Rou Reynolds as Enter Shikari ready themselves to bring their headline at show at London’s Alexandra Palace to a glorious close. The near-two hour set sees the band pull songs from across their nine-year history and arrange them into a lose narrative. Presented in quadraphonic sound and backed by an incredible, ever-shifting light show, from the opening of ‘Solidarity’ it’s obvious that this tour has elevated Enter Shikari to the next level and set them on a trajectory that knows no limits. More than that though this evening sees Enter Shikari revolutionise the live show, setting them alongside the likes of Slipknot, Radiohead and The Prodigy. Tonight, everything changes.
That sense of revolution is the beating heart of The King Blues but tonight, their with us or against mindset falls short. For the faithful, it’s a celebrated return but for the uninitiated and the unsure, it’s all a bit distant.
From the opening twang of ‘Brothers &’, The Wonder Years make themselves right at home. The slow build and group cry of ‘we’re no saviours if we can’t save our brothers’ dances on heartstrings before the hit of ‘Cardinals’ sees the room raise their fists as one. From here on out, it’s warm, inviting and unifying. It’s the Wonder Years at their very best. The likes of ‘Came Out Swinging’ and ‘Local Man Ruins Everything’ are as reactive and vibrant as ever but it’s the material from ‘No Closer To Heaven’ that really shines. From the dynamic opening through the pairing of ‘A Song For Ernest Hemingway’ and ‘A Song For Patsy Cline’ and on to ‘The Bluest Things on Earth’, the band cut bedroom confessionals with something grander. It’s intimate, intricate yet every single body in the room feels it whether they know The Wonder Years or not.
“We’re going to take you on a journey tonight,” promise Enter Shikari and, true to their word, their headline show at Alexandra Palace is nothing short of a trip. However, for all the lights, video intermissions and fancy sound systems tonight is really only about one thing and that’s Enter Shikari’s ability to write music that brings people together. The show looks and sounds amazing but it only enhances the band’s natural state.
From the end-of-the-world party abandon that ‘The Jester’ and ‘Mothership’ incites to the campfire singalongs of ‘Radiate’ and ‘Dear Future Historians…’ Enter Shikari are always on the move but constantly ensuring the room is with them for every step and two-step. ‘The One True Colour’ runs down the spine while ‘Sorry, You’re Not A Winner’ (still with the best handclap around) pushes forward.
“Christ on a bendy bus,” Rou exclaims, taking a moment to look around. “Whatever you think of our music, it’s not middle of the road. It’s not easy listening,” he continues, explaining why tonight doesn’t make any sense. The band is completely independent and they’re “not afraid to call a cunt a cunt,” yet here they are. Not just looking comfortable in Alexandra Palace’s expanse but laying down the gauntlet for every other band to follow. Tonight is challenging, theatrical and overblown but every meticulous and unpredictable second, from the karaoke rendition of Robbie Williams’ ‘Angels’ to the lone fire extinguisher let off during ‘The Appeal & The Mindsweep II’ is completely Enter Shikari. There’s never been a band like them but after tonight, everyone’s taking notes.