Before even making their entrance onto stage, the Manchester faithful were already bellowing, “And still we will be here, standing like statues”, the illustrious chant taken from Enter Shikari’s debut album Take To The Skies – released almost a decade ago.
That title may or may not have been intended as a forecast of the band’s future.. For an independent four-piece who make no disguise of their political standpoints or ferocity in their genre defying musical experimentation, even the band themselves concede that their ascent wasn’t ever expected.
From playing in small dingy clubs to selling out an entire headline re-tour of 2015’s Mindsweep LP, Shikari have looked to reinvent their usual up close and personal live show performances. Having already catered for large venues such as Nottingham’s Motorpoint and Bournemouth’s International Centre, this show would be another test of their ability to bring a club-like intimacy to an arena capacity audience.
“We’re gonna take you on a journey tonight”, frontman Rou Reynolds asserts to a maxed out Victoria Warehouse as they kicked off proceedings with souped-up versions of the self-titled Enter Shikari mixed sublimely into fan-favourite Solidarity.
Aside from the newly introduced quadraphonic surround sound system and the remarkable lighting and visual displays, it was noticeable how Reynolds has vastly downsized his electronics set up. What was once an apparatus wall of Electribes, KAOSS & Novation launchpads is now just simply a MIDI keyboard as the band have looked to introduce various other instrumentation into their live show.
Following a heavy onslaught of Slipshod, The Jester and a drum & bass rendition of There’s A Price On Your Head, Reynolds took to a separate stage amongst the crowd to play piano for the emotive spectacle of Dear Future Historians. Prior to the song’s cresendo the vocalist then climbed atop the piano and rocked-out on the guitar before proceeding into a trumpet solo, to then split the room into call & response groups for a rousing acoustic serenade of Juggernauts.
This alone demonstrates Enter Shikari’s fearlessness, by effortlessly varying from one extreme to the other, rejuvenating old classics and all the while keeping an audience forever guessing. Hell, they even broke out into Robbie Williams’ Angels during Gandhi Mate, Gandhi!
Support for the night came from the returning ska-punk outfit The King Blues who were premiering their new EP Off With Their Heads. Itch & co warmed the warehouse with anthems I Got Love and Save The World, Get The Girl, amongst a powerful speech denouncing Tory rule and promoting the Unite Against Fascism protests taking place in Manchester that Saturday.
Enter Shikari’s set list on the night:
Sorry, You’re Not A Winner
The One True Colour
The Last Garrison
No Sleep Tonight
There’s A Price On Your Head
Dear Future Historians…
Arguing With Thermometers
Gandhi Mate, Gandhi
The Paddington Frisk
The Appeal & The Mindsweep II
The King Blues’ set list on the night:
Let’s Hand The Landlord
The Future’s Not What It Used To Be
We Ain’t Never Done
The Streets Are Ours
I Got Love
Off With Their Heads
Originally written for One Media Group