Enter Shikari – Live Review – Leeds O2 Academy
By Victoria Holdsworth, February 2019
A packed out academy this evening, for what promises to be a cracking night of music mastery from not just one, but two bands who have gained much acclaimed notoriety with the noises that they make.
Black Peaks, who only formed in 2012 have been taking the music scene by storm with big vocals and massive all-encompassing drum sounds. The lads from Brighton have nailed the curse of the second album with All That Divides, named Kerrang’s album of the week back in October 2019.
The band is as eccentric as they come, with a unique progressive post-rock sound. I’d urge you to see them while they are still playing affordable venues. Thy’re the real deal; raucously moody with some quality anthems – and the way they engaged with the crowd tonight was remarkable to see. Something which could not be said of the next band, Palaye Royale. The self-described ‘fashion-art-rock band’ from Canada seems to have completely missed their own concept. Well, they do say that art is subjective.
But before long, the main event of the night is finally here. Enter Shikari, who certainly give you value for ticket money with their shows, open with ‘The Sights’ from one of their best albums, The Spark. It sees lead singer Rou Reynolds taking to the stage with a glint in his eye. The magic opening continues with the band rattling through their first four songs (which seems to be a common pattern with the guys).
“Circle pit building”
The stirring and provocative track ‘Step Up’ sets the blue touch paper alight as Reynolds belts out: “Sometimes I do wish apples were our currency/So your hoarded millions would rot in their vaults/And that’d teach you to lay off the assault/That you’re barraging on the lands of the poor.” The song was written ten years ago, but is probably even more relevant today.
‘Labyrinth’ and the brutal ‘Arguing With Thermometers’ see their younger female fan base swooning at the front. This does not last for long, as you can see the urge for a circle pit building around them for the next couple of songs.
At about the midway point, lead singer Rou Reynolds disappears from the side of the stage, only to re-appear a few minutes later at the back side of the venue, by the sound desk. With heads turned, the lads rock into ‘Gap In The Fence’ from Common Dreads, closely followed by the slightly more contemporary ‘Shinrin-Yoku’ from Sparks. It would appear that the guys have clearly been watching some old Bon Jovi or Mötley Crüe videos. Yes, this is something we have all seen before, but it delights and awes their younger fans, as does the huge streamer cannons which explode over the crowd.
“Disregard for convention”
The second half of the set is a little more frantic than the first, and the crowd seem more animated. There’s more cannon action, however this time with glitter and ticker tape, which is never a good look when you’re sweaty! The female ‘fan club’ seems to have dissipated to the background now, and we have mosh pit and circle pits galore!
The electricity of Rou, Rob, Chris and Rory’s performance on stage is relentless, and continues to elevate as they perform ‘Gandhi Mate, Gandhi’, ‘Mothership’ and their ruthlessly heavy cover version of ‘Insomnia’ by Faithless.
Enter Shikari leads the crowd to a quieter place now, with the performance of ‘Airfield’, played at the piano. This tune shows just how well they can flip the switch and produce something very moving and delicate, amidst all the usual chaos. It is a credit to them, however, this is of course the calm before the storm and leads up to the legendary part of the second half, which has become a regular occurrence at ES gigs – the quick fire round. For those who have never seen these guys live, they maraud through four songs in just eight minutes, including, ‘Sorry You’re Not a Winner’, ‘The Last Garrison’, ‘…Meltdown’ and a Reso remix of ‘Anaesthetist’.
Whilst the encore consists of ‘Take My Country Back’, ‘Juggernauts’ and ‘Live Outside’, for me it is a little rushed. But nevertheless, tonight demonstrates Enter Shikari’s versatility, their disregard for convention and the strong bond they still have with their fans.
images: Neil Chapman