LIVE: Enter Shikari @ Wembley Arena

By Katherine Allvey

“It’s gonna be a good one,” nods the guy at the box office. Even before the supports, the crowd are beyond ready to see Enter Shikari, springing into moves at the drop of a neon baseball cap. Signs flit between warnings of drones overhead and blush pink retro merch models. The crowd are already willing to have fun; there’s no question of having to win us over with time and the right tracks. Every song will be the right song and the time for letting loose is right now. 

“For the next one and a half hours, the world outside ceases to exist,” declares Enter Shikari frontman Rou Reynolds, and he’s absolutely right. The band have sacrificed the rock half of their sound for full, speaker-busting drum n bass, and a full arena party erupts before the fevered bass of ‘…Meltdown’ has even reached its peak. Our mental barriers shattered, we dance to the late night fuzz of ‘Live Outside’ as drones whirr overhead, blurring the lines between authentic and projected. ‘Giant Pacific Octopus’ throws us through into fractal leaps and drops with a pervasive drum pip to guide us, and the sound of heart monitors drive the degenerated drum breakdown of ‘Anaesthetist’. Reynolds beats his chest emphatically. “Shall we put this sound system through its paces right now?” His rhetorical question is answered by brutally pounding bass. 

As well as leading euphoric bangers, Reynolds gives voice to his barely hidden rage at the state of the world. He silences us briefly to use his platform to discuss the ongoing conflict in Gaza without grandstanding or hyperbole.  “Our country is very complicit in this atrocity,” he says plainly, panting between words. “I just hope to God there is a Gaza and Palestine left when this nightmare ends.”

We barely have time to let his message sink in before the spine-bending bass intro to ‘Goldfish~’ drops. Two pensioners in fishing gear jump with their arms round each other as  a group of sequinned teens beside them twirl their glow sticks: while we don’t have the space to ponder his words philosophically, their message of unity has sunk in. 

Holding an acoustic guitar and perched high above the crowd on a block animated to look like a cartoon building, Reynolds introduces “old school classic” ‘the pressure’s on’. “I’m gonna add completely unnecessary pauses to create a dramatic effect and manipulate your emotions,” he tells us. His plan works immediately, and his guitar tones entwines with our aching hearts. Cameras spin onto us, displaying ten thousand hands clutched to chests.

While we’re distracted by ‘Gap In The Fence’, the rest of the band decamp to a second tiny stage by the sound desk. “Did you see what we did there?” Bassist Chris Batten is amused at his own cheap trick, and by our astonishment as our senses are divided between two stages. Then Reynolds is in the crowd, running between hugs, his coat open over his bare chest, belting out ‘The Sights’. Crew members trot awkwardly on either side of him and he’s wailing as he runs, sometimes hidden under a flood of adoring fans, sometime draped and swinging from barriers, but never static and never missing a beat. Light on his feet, he floats and twirls, buoyed up by our chanted melodies.

We’re rapt as Reynolds mounts his mental soapbox again. “This song is about feeling comfortable in your own skin; wanting to feel comfortable loving those you love. It’s all very simple, it doesn’t need to be complex, but the government and vast swathes of our media like to keep us divided. The enemy is the neoliberal narcissists in power. Let’s keep the fingers pointed at them,” he calls as he introduces Sam Ryder as guest vocalist on ‘satellites* *’. The band keep it minimal and celestial with the bass taking the load. We’re a playful tidal wave as rainbows light the stream of confetti that floods down from above and lingers in the air as we knock back the soft candy shot of ‘{The Dreamer’s Hotel}’. We launch ourselves onto the nearest shoulders to create a multi-layered city of pits to take over the arena floor. 

An answerphone message calls us back for the encore. ‘Sorry, You’re Not A Winner’ encapsulates Enter Shikari in one move: half pure rock song, perhaps the only one in the setlist, and part old school reproduction of the Pendulum remix. We’re all part of one huge, messy, abstract party that refuses to slow down. ‘A Kiss For The Whole World x’ is the perfect swan song to the night’s message of positivity and unity, as well as our last chance to swim in the glorious energy the band have created. Birdsong and a typed thank you note play us out.

Three lads in matching Carhartt ask an elderly rave veteran in a feather boa to take their photo. She obliges and they fist bump her, laughing together. Enter Shikari may have aimed to put on a simple show to finish the UK leg of their tour, but what they created was a mashup of rock and electronic, positive and political, personal and universal, that captured and embraced a sense of modern hope and, very briefly, made the world a much better place.