LIVE: Enter Shikari / Trash Boat / Nova Twins @ Alexandra Palace, London

By Yasmin Brown

It’s been quite the week for Enter Shikari. The tour they’ve been holding out for is finally set to kick off but of course what’s a tour without a few hiccups, right? Tonight, not only have main support acts Dinosaur Pile-Up had to pull out due to a case of Covid, but Shikari’s very own bassist Chris Batten is set to be noticeably absent from tonight’s triumphant comeback at London’s Ally Pally following a positive test result.

Enter Shikari and their fans have not waited two years to be disappointed, however, and DPU are promptly replaced with the wonderful Trash Boat, while Batten’s bass and vocals are all tracked and ready to go, ensuring no fan is left too disappointed.

With Nova Twins opening proceedings, the night kicks off with a luminescent bang. Already clearly very popular in our scene after a summer of festivals, they set the tone for the night phenomenally with the crowd already sweating long before Trash Boat’s name appears in bright white lights on the screens to the side of the stage.

Tobi Duncan fronts this main support set explosively, his vocal prowess impressing even those who seem unaware of this fast-growing band. Of course, though, with Trash Boat also appearing on pretty much every relevant festival lineup and just coming off the back of a nationwide tour in support of new album ‘Don’t You Feel Amazing?’, they are more popular than ever and tonight proves exactly why that is the case. Damn straight we feel amazing.

With two such strong support acts, it’s easy to forget for a moment why we’re here but with projections appearing on the side walls of the venue, we’re quickly reminded that the mighty Enter Shikari are set to take to the stage in just 15 minutes. We could not be more excited. 

These wall projections can be seen throughout and are just one tool Enter Shikari utilise to add depth and context to their performance. This was never going to just be some guys on a stage playing some instruments; Shikari put every ounce of their beings into their live shows and following a fanfare rendition of ‘Live Outside’, it’s not long before confetti is showering down on us as we scream through our smiles, singing along to ‘THE GREAT UNKNOWN’ from the band’s latest musical venture.

As well as wall projections and floating, multicoloured paper, Shikari have designed the most stunning light show, ensuring that wherever you are in this iconic venue, there is something to be marvelled at. In fact, the further back you happen to be, the more there is to be seen and while front man Rou Reynolds and company may just be ants on a stage or pixels on a screen, this immersive experience ensures every attendee feels as involved as each other. 

In fact, every moment of this show has been intricately woven together with the goal of continuous entertainment – there’s not a moment of silence and the finite details can be found in every corner of the room, leaving you not knowing which way to look. From the finger lights Shikari introduced way back in their early 2000s club shows to the huge headline shows of today, the band have spent their entire career ensuring that their live shows leave fans reeling, long after the lights come up, and the empty beer cups and confetti have been cleared. It’s been clear watching live streams during lockdown that bands need us as much as we need them and as we embrace tonight’s performance – yelling, jumping, drinking and laughing together – this fact seems more prominent than ever. It seems to be felt by those on stage, too, as Reynolds admits that he simply wasn’t able to write music without live shows, highlighting that for Shikari, the “machine grinds to a halt without human connection”. We feel it and we understand, because our creativity and our lust for life also halted while these venues echoed, barren and uncared for for so long.

But tonight, there’s life injected back into the crowd, the band and the stunning Alexandra Palace, bringing us back from the brink with a bang, and it’s not just because of the four band members on stage and some songs that we all happen to love, but also the energy that reverberates between each person and off the very walls that confine us. It’s an energy that does not exist without any one party tonight, proving once and for all that human connection is fundamental in order for us to not just exist, but to thrive. Enter Shikari may have facilitated this energy tonight but it’s clear that it only exists if we are all there to play our part.

All of this, though – the camaraderie, the lights, the projections, the confetti –  would be nothing if it weren’t for the music that made all of this possible in the first place. The setlist is made up of fan favourites stemming from 2007’s ‘Take to the Skies’ (and yes, the ‘Sorry You’re Not a Winner’ clap was everything we had hoped for), all the way to 2020’s ‘Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible’, the latter of which is proven to have already found itself being home to soon-to-be classics such as ‘{ The Dreamer’s Hotel }’, ‘modern living’, ‘the pressure’s on.’ and ‘satellites **’. Every word and every note are lapped up by the crowd as if it were the last we’d ever hear them, and the excitement was emulated on the faces of those on stage – not least through the almost constant grin of the most sincere man in the world, Rou Reynolds. 

Despite the band’s best efforts, Batten’s absence was inevitably noticed, so it came as a lovely surprise when he appeared on the screens during the encore to express his disappointment at missing this first ‘real’ show of the tour following the previous week’s warm-ups. This heartwarming moment led perfectly into Reynolds’ breathtaking solo rendition of ‘Constellations’, wherein we were reminded that change will not simply come to us – we must move to make a difference. It’s a message that lingers in our minds as the last few songs are played and the show draws to a close with a full version of ‘Live Outside’, bringing the set full circle. With more explosions – this time in the form of rainbow coloured streamers – there’s more screaming and laughing, and it’s impossible to see this incredible show out with anything but sheer delight.

After such a well thought out, entertaining spectacle of a show, the announcement that Shikari will co-headline Reading and Leeds festivals this coming summer comes as no surprise but it’s hard to see after tonight how they could possibly top their current set. This is a special band with a special message, making us feel very special indeed. How lucky we are to exist at a time where they are at their peak.