LIVE: Enter Shikari / The Wonder Years / The King Blues / Arcane Roots @ Alexandra Palace, London

By Kathryn Black

Well that wasn’t a show you’ll see every day. While those of us who went are still pulling ourselves off the ceiling, Enter Shikari are feeling on top of the world right now, and rightfully so. It was a night to remember at Alexandra Palace and the culmination of an arena tour that blew everyone else out of the water for the title of Britain’s best live band.

Playing shortly after doors opened, the cavernous room was barely filling when Arcane Roots took to the stage but they made everyone stand up and stare with their huge riffs and undeniably powerful tracks. If this is what ‘If Nothing Breaks, Nothing Moves’ sounds like in a place this big, imagine what it would do to a smaller venue.

At the other end of the musical spectrum, The King Blues’ brand of angry punk drew a huge response. Despite dividing the crowd into those who loved them and those who couldn’t care less, they shouted about love and politics and packed their set with raucous, fun performances of ‘Off With Their Heads’, ‘I Got Love’ and ‘Hang The Landlord’. You’ve got to give it to them: they put on a good show.

There was a lot of doubt as to whether main support The Wonder Years would feel out of place supporting a band like Shikari people needn’t have worried. They’ve developed a bit of a cult following and die-hard fans screamed along to every word of every song. Singer Soupy lost his glasses shortly after the set began (he only wore them to “see what 10,000 people look like”) and a guitarist was hit by a flying glowstick, but otherwise their set packed with hits like ‘Cardinals’, ‘Passing Through A Screen Door’ and ‘Came Out Swinging’ was flawless. They proved pop-punk lives on and plenty of rucksack-donning teenagers and bearded thirty-five year olds were won over by their undeniably brilliant material.

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Anticipation for Enter Shikari built as soon as the ten-minute countdown began, announced over the PA system to an ever-excited crowd, and an introductory segment declaring “there’s thousands of them” played before Shikari burst into action.

The 2016 intro and an ‘Enter Shikari’ reprise opened the show, the audience singing along to “and still we will be here, standing like statues” before the song had even started; a dominating, earth-shaking sound. Nothing about the band’s sound is comfortable or easy – unlike the furry-collared coat Rou Reynolds started the show wearing – and ‘Sorry You’re Not A Winner’ shocked the senses further with an accompanying switch between frantic pink and blue strobe lights and total darkness. The old clap-along favourite saw human pyramids arise from the crowd at the request of Reynolds, which he followed with a declaration of “Blimey! Christ on a bendy bus!” as he took in the crowd and the vastness of the arena in front of him.

After an appreciative speech about the success of 2015’s ‘The Mindsweep’ album, fans were treated to an insane performance of ‘The One True Colour’, previously unperformed until this tour, accompanied by expansive shots of Earth and space – a common theme throughout the show. For the first time in five years, ‘No Sleep Tonight’ was played, mixed alongside ‘The Last Garrison’ for an interesting remix that really worked.

‘Destabilise’ brought the party and reminded us why Enter Shikari have always been a fun band to see live, vivaciously performed alongside videos of 1920s Charleston dancers and a reeeeally hyped up double bassist: it had to be seen to be believed. Proclaimed as “the rowdy part of the set”, ‘Slipshod’, a song that started as a joke and is now a staple of the live show, ‘The Jester’ and ‘There’s A Price On Your Head’ saw security guards dancing and the band at their most fun and energetic.

As if by magic, Reynolds appeared on the sound and lighting rig in the middle of the room for a mind-blowing performance of ‘Dear Future Historians’, transcending from slow ballad to fantastical crescendo with the help of 10,000 backing singers. A piano version of ‘Juggernauts’, the lively single ‘Arguing With Thermometers’ and ‘Ghandi Mate, Ghandi’ followed and the man himself appeared in cartoon form to ask “what would Robbie Williams do?” The answer? Sing ‘Angels’, of course, so a little bit of 90s pop found its way in to the setlist.

‘Torn Apart’ which continues to be the only song that doesn’t sound as good live as it does recorded preceded an empassioned speech about Shikari’s independence and what sets them apart from other bands, and closer ‘Mothership’ was a nostalgia trip, a nod to the original shows the band played, and a thank you to all the fans.

An encore of ‘Redshift, ‘Anaesthetist’ and ‘The Appeal & The Mindsweep II’ cemented this show as the best of its kind. Enter Shikari, in a venue overlooking the London skyline, dominated the city and changed the British alternative music scene forever in a show that was gutsy, lively, fun, poignant, political and astounding. With a headliner slot at Hevy Festival this summer, what comes after that? Wembley, maybe? Let’s hope so – there isn’t a band that deserves it more.


Check out all the photo action from the show in our gallery.