Ever since emerging from the heavy days of MySpace, Enter Shikari have been pushing themselves beyond the electro-infused hardcore sound that their early work founded. Having appeared on the main stage of festivals throughout the world, tonight serves as one of their biggest test so far as they headline in an arena for the first time. With The Wonder Years and The King Blues as support, collectively it promises to be as diverse a show as the headliners stylistic output.
After a slight delay to enter the arena, Camden Town punks The King Blues are in a spirited mood. Having reformed just a matter of weeks ago, the trio along with their backing band sound reinvigorated with their brand ska/reggae punk. With socio-political songs like ‘The Streets are Ours’ and the recently released ‘Off With Their Heads’, frontman Itch and company have substance amongst their radiant and upbeat style. Closing number ‘Save The World, Get The Girl’ unites a small, dedicated following with its infectious hook. (2.5/5)
For Philadelphia’s The Wonder Years, the step up to playing an arena show supporting a band that aren’t in the pop punk realm has left us curious. Nevertheless, it’s a good opportunity for the sextet to introduce their impassioned brand of pop punk to a new audience. As the opening ripples of ‘Brothers &’ echo throughout the arena, we’re soon reassured of TWY’s capabilities of playing to a big crowd. Songs like ‘Cardinals’, ‘Passing Through The Screen Doors’ sound massive and fill the arena. Admittedly, however, the required intimacy and radiancy of ‘A Song for Patsy Cline’ gets lost along the way.
With material from last year’s ‘No Closer To Heaven’ being fitted alongside older favourites (‘Local Man Ruins Everything’ and the closing ‘Came Out Swinging’), “Soupy” and company give a short yet satisfactory snapshot of what they have to offer. A headline tour is long overdue. (3.5/5)
After grinding away for over 10 years, Enter Shikari have worked their way up the ladder. From playing pubs to clubs to plenty of festivals, the St Albans group now find themselves playing arenas. Nevertheless with a prelude mix of drum and bass, 90s dancing and retro soul counting down to the start of their set, the quartet build a brilliant sense of anticipation. When the curtain drops, we’re given a sci-fi-esque voice over before thunderous drums build up until Rou Reynolds and thousands of fans declare “We will still be here. Standing like statues!”
Following ‘Solidarity,’ Reynolds states the best way to begin is at the beginning as they kick into ‘Sorry You’re Not a Winner’. Providing an early highlight, the arena erupts with a sea of handclaps and human pyramids. On songs like ‘The One True Colour’, ‘The Last Garrison’ and ‘No Sleep Tonight’ it’s clear why Shikari have made the daring jump to arenas; bold, powerful and anthemic.
The genre-bending ‘Destabilise’ literally shakes the arena. ‘Radiate’ is deafening and equally thunderous. As they enter the “rowdy” part of the set, ‘Slipshod’ turns the arena into a massive rave, whereas ‘There’s A Price on Your Head’ is jagged with heavy blasts followed up by stabbing, sweeping strings.
‘Dear Future Historians’ allows Reynolds to provide a reflective moment in the centre of the arena on his piano. Structurally, the song is compelling and poignant serving as highlight of the night. ‘Juggernaut’ is hindered by technical issue, yet a defiant Reynolds crowd surfs back to main stage for the dubstep-infused ‘Arguing with Thermometers’. Soon after, the melodic ‘Torn Apart’ puts things back on track. ‘Mothership’ unites the room with Rob Rolfe’s domineering drums with Reynolds’ roaring cry of “Walk the plank!” leading to the biggest pit of the night.
Spacious sounds lead into the encore as new single ‘Redshift’ kicks in with its subtle atmospherics and sweet harmonies – it’s the prime example of why Shikari are now playing arenas. The pulsating ‘Anaesthetist’ follows before ‘The Appeal & the Mindsweep II’ gives us one final slice of the band’s genre-morphing prowess.
Admittedly, we had our doubts about Enter Shikari stepping up to arenas. Minus the odd flaw, it is clear the quartet have all the makings of becoming a regular arena band. The combination of impressive production and energetic songs prove their worth in showcasing their musical versatility. With a headline slot pencilled for this summers Hevy Fest, it’s clear big stages are quickly becoming a second home for the quartet. (4/5)