In the decade since Enter Shikari last played Brixton, they’ve found a wicked sense of peace. They used to be a gang raging against labels and trying to outrun the rules. Quick glances over their shoulder, there was a common dread about being seen as just another rock band, a product of nu-rave or predictable in any way so they giddily leaped from place to place. Jarring, madcap and brilliant, they created their own space in the world. A place of acceptance, solidarity and welcome. In the years since, they’ve made it bigger. More inviting and just as daring, now there’s no looking back.
The last time Enter Shikari played London, it was headlining the cavernous Alexandra Palace off the back of ‘The Spark’. Dazzling, sparkling and a step up in every way, it saw them continue to kick down doors and explore the unknown. Fearless and full of confidence, Enter Shikari made those big arena shows feel comfortable. Tonight’s show at Brixton Academy isn’t a step back though. It’s not a retreat. Enter Shikari don’t know how to stand down afterall. Instead their three-month ‘Stop The Clocks’ tour sees the band taking the roads less traveled in a bid to discover just how wide this world of theirs can go.
Black Peaks have seen a lot. For a band who’ve already done so much, ticked and reticked things from an outrageous bucket list, they still play like a band whose wildest dreams are only just coming true. They’re the first band to play Brixton this year and ‘Glass Built Castles’ is the first song. In the steadily filling expanse, it trades its scrappy snarl for something a lot more devastating. Will air guitars about the stage, a kid in his bedroom playing along to his favourite band. Liam screams along to ‘Electric Fires’ from behind the drums while Joe and Dave throw themselves into every gnarled twist and shimmering leap. Despite the relentless weight of the music, the band inject colour and arrow-head precision throughout. ‘Can’t Sleep’ floats in the air, ghoulish and claustrophobic before the quaking ‘Eternal Light’ points fingers and flirts with oblivion. Giddy smiles, raised glasses and they’re off all too soon.
Enter Shikari embrace change at every opportunity. The first tour for ‘The Spark’ was a big, beautiful arena-spectacular but tonight, they get down and dirty. Sure, the opening one-two of ‘The Spark’ and ‘The Sights’ is a bewitching escape of wonder but as the band once promised, anything can happen in the next half hour. And it does. ‘Step Up’ swiftly follows, a burst of strobe-lit fury and the encouragement to be better before the euphoric ‘Labyrinth’ drops, all skipping glee, decadent excess and confetti for good measure. “Three songs in and I’m already flirting with you Brixton,” grins Rou.
The band bounce between the shine of the arena and the grime of the everyday with reckless abandon but the crowd match them at every turn. This world that Shikari have curated lets them reach far and wide as old and new share the same space. ‘Arguing With Thermometers’ and ‘Rabble Rouser’ get the blood pumping, screw faced and not taking any nonsense before ‘Gap In The Fence’ and ‘Shinrin-Yoku’ create a space for calm, reflective intimate connection. The jokers of the pack, wherever Shikari go, it feels like home.
There are no straight lines or defined shapes (apart from the ones Rou pulls) tonight, instead it’s a kaleidoscopic explosion of past, present and future. ‘Juggernauts’ looks forward, ‘Live Outside’ stares towards the sky and new song ‘Stop The Clocks’ wants to embrace it all. “I’m grateful to be alive on this stage tonight,” starts Rou. “I’m grateful we still have music in a world that’s incredibly divisive. Be a sponge. Soak it all up. Fuck knows me need it.”