Following the commercial and critical success of their fifth studio album The Spark, the genre-defying Hertfordshire band Enter Shikari have taken to touring massive venues and arenas across the country.
They stopped off at The Brighton Centre on Wednesday evening, to deliver a triumphant 90-minute set which managed to span their entire career while looking boldly to the future.
Along for the ride were openers Astroid Boys, a grime-rock fusion band who turned in an appropriately high energy set that really got the gathering crowd buzzing.
They were followed up by Watford alt-rockers Lower Than Atlantis, who dropped a more restrained slathering of melody. Tight though their performance was, it felt a little too safe to really sustain the energy that had amassed, though the small circle pit during ‘Work For It’ did make for a nice warm-up for the knees. And boy, was it going to be needed.
Anyone who has seen Enter Shikari live will understand that they tend to get a tad theatrical with their headline sets. From the off, the scope and the attention to detail of their show production here left me stunned.
Each instrument and amplifier was adorned with the calm baby blue of their new album artwork, while the device portrayed on the cover was also present serving as frontman Rou’s MIDI sequencer.
Tall stacks of neon dotted with spotlights enclosed the stage, while the centrepiece, a ginormous circular screen or ‘radar’ suspended above the band’s head, displayed a selection of footage appropriate for each song. From images of climate destruction during ‘Arguing With Thermometers’ to stars exploding for ‘Redshift’, the visuals fully enhanced the palpable explosive energy that the band are known to conjure.
I must admit a feeling of concern about how the new, lighter tone of songs from The Spark would translate to a live setting. Alas, this subsided as soon as the guitar on opener ‘The Sights’ kicked in, sending the crowd utterly barmy and nicely sets the tone for what was to follow.
The set was densely packed, containing a deep exploration of the new record, along with live staples like ‘The Last Garrison’ and ‘Radiate’, as well as a few surprise rarities from their vast back catalogue.
This voracious selection was matched by an incredible atmosphere amongst show-goers; several thousand souls united in pulsation before these audiovisual delights. My personal highlight of the night was the appearance of new song ‘Rabble Rouser’ around halfway through the set, which brought grime and punk together with drops made to decimate mid-floor moshers and front-row bouncers alike.
These propelling sounds were presented by a full 360-degree quadraphonic setup (four speaker stacks as opposed to the usual two) – which made for a particularly lovely set piece towards the end. Frontman Rou played both ‘Airfield’ and ‘Adieu’ from a piano at the back of the venue, while visuals and accompanying instrumentation from the rest of the band took place at the front.
This soothing interlude was rendered considerably immersive as a result; the best possible breather before the carnage that followed. I refer to the closing ‘quickfire section’, which had the band play four of their fastest songs in an 8-minute medley; a final bout of blazing energy for an already spoiled (and exhausted) audience.
That they could go between these two extremes of performance without fault, and in such quick succession, is a testament to Shikari’s cemented place as a band who not only explore a vast selection of sounds but also conquer them.
Though may have already worked tirelessly for over a decade, after this showing I can’t help but feel that Enter Shikari are only just now entering their prime.
Words: Matthias Brunwin