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Review by Chloe Waterhouse
Having risen victorious as arena giants after 2016’s Mindsweep arena tour, Enter Shikari have returned to embark on yet another tour around the UK circuit. I enter the venue bursting with optimism, having been a fan of the lads since the post-hardcore ingenuity of ‘Take To The Skies’ back in 2007. Much to my surprise, the Shikari stage setup is centred in the middle of the arena, with seating areas cordoned off, perpetuating a much more intimate atmosphere for their fans.
Welsh four-piece Astroid Boys kick off the night, with an unholy fusion of punk-rock and grime, the chirpiness of vocalists Benji and Traxx warming my ears to their experimental genre. Their dedicated fan-base eagerly erupts into a mosh pit of Stussy t-shirts and 2-steppers as they play ‘Dirt’ from their debut album ‘Broke’, a monstrosity of muscular riffs and urgent breakdowns. Donning baggy tracksuits and baseball caps, you could’ve taken Astroid Boys out of a sketchy neighbourhood in the NYC. They exude confidence, finishing their performance with a request from the audience: WWE theme song ‘Dusted’. Their popularity as a support act only highlights their impending fame in the future, and I’m surprisingly impressed by their stage presence.
Next up comes Lower Than Atlantis, with frontman Mike Duce displaying an unfaltering grin that remains present throughout their entire set. His cheeky-chappy Delboy banter bounces off the rambunctious crowd, flying effortlessly through a set-list of fan-favourites such as ‘Emily’, ‘Get Over It’ and ‘English Kids In America’. All taken from their most recent album offerings, LTA’s infectious choruses leave me suitably adrenaline fuelled and satisfied. Roaring ‘This is my favourite show of the tour Newcastle!’, LTA finishes with the rally cries of ‘Here We Go’, and depart the stage like headliners in their own right.
The momentum builds gradually for the return of Enter Shikari, through frenetic aircraft sounds and radio transmissions which engulf the auditorium. They break thematic boundaries as the lighting set-up is unleashed, an atmospheric sequence that adopts the aeronautical theme of their most recent album, The Spark. Scientific props and fluorescent light flashes accompany the band as they charge onstage, frontman Rou Reynolds looking like a victim of some malfunctioning lab experiment. Always the eccentric, Reynolds kicks off the set with ‘The Sights’, which acts as a prelude to the electronic riffage of ‘Solidarity’. Sound vibrations pulse sporadically during the set, creating a visceral sense of bodily immersion. What astounds me the most is how they can so smoothly transition between genres, switching from the brutal breakdowns of political rhetoric in ‘Arguing With Thermometers’ to the poetic piano trills of ‘Airfield’ in an instant.
As the audience enters phase two of the performance, an eery fog envelopes the stage. As the visuals shift to an ominous red moon, I’m transported to a universe that would put H.G.Wells to shame. When the band delve into rock anthem ‘Radiate’, their performance is nothing short of an extravaganza. Their breakdowns are tight with synchronicity; but that’s not to say that there aren’t occasional flaws in the performance. ‘Underground Agents’ is restarted due to electronic malfunctions. They redeem themselves later on, however, through the skittering grime beats of ‘Rabble Rouser’. The audience mesh together as a singular mass of hyper-charged bodies. It’s sticky, it’s sweaty, and it is spectacular. The frenzied finale of fan-favourite ‘Zzzonked’ ends the main set on a monumental scale of euphoric glee.
Upon exiting the venue I’m still trapped in a daze, my mind still not comprehending the intricacies of such a magnificent and creatively innovative performance.
There are rock bands, and then there is Enter Shikari.