Fingers on buzzers: what links Enter Shikari and Led Zeppelin?
The answer is a shared willingness between both bands to – instead of delivering note-perfect po-faced renditions of their songs exactly as they appear on the studio release* – allow for constant experimentation and mutation in the live setting.
*Nuffink actually wrong with that, mind
For the ‘Zep, this meant endless bluesy jams and urban myths of bored punters plodding to the pub, getting the rounds in, enjoying some pool and returning to the gig only to find the band still on the same song.
For Enter Shikari, this means an almost unlimited capacity for creation. In just one of many examples, singer Rou Reynolds sings past single ‘No Sleep Tonight’s chorus over new’un ‘The Last Garrison’, to captivating results. Throughout the rest of the evening, songs that would have incited bedlam even in their recorded forms are re-jigged for maximum impact.
It just works, as does Reynolds’ song-on-the-sound-desk intermission. Crooning at a slightly battered upright piano that subsequently conks out, an already surreal moment is rendered indescribable still by the man standing atop it afterwards, playing a trumpet.
Watch Enter Shakiri perform ‘Anaesthetist’ at Download Festival last yearhttps://www.youtube.com/embed/PTvR_e_xIk4
But Shikari’s reserves of charm and character allow for anything to happen in the next half-hour – and it does, with the the crowd suddenly being led through a singalong of Robbie Williams‘ ‘Angels’. So strange to recollect now, but in the moment, it just works. It adds to this list of beautifully weird moments that marks out a gig as one of the true greats.
The St. Albans troupe’s success lies in a seemingly effortless fusion of shuddering dance and pummelling anthemic rock – by no means the first group to do so. Nevertheless, they offer one of the very best live shows in the world, and package this mixture into a product that, thanks to charm, humour and an overall sense of fun, is an evening very well spent.
Of course, this is evidenced in the several years’ worth of rapturously-received shows and albums – with the Download Festival hosting them as second-stage headliners twice – and an apparently bottomless well of conscious songwriting (in terms of activism and quality) that is of relentless interest, flavour and wit.
Having been an unmissable live act for a while now, this evening apparently heralds a new era of arena shows. This band will soon cease to be described with introductory language: on this evidence, with a constantly-growing profile, Enter Shikari will soon be casually referred to as one of Britain’s very best bands, period – and deservedly so.