The atmosphere at Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse was crackling before Enter Shikari had even set a foot on stage. With support acts The King Blues and The Wonder Years having suitably worked the crowd up, those looking on could barely contain themselves as they waited for their idols to make an appearance. A teasing, 10-minute countdown – “There are 8 minutes to go, until…” – bumped up the anticipation of everybody present into a fever pitch.
Enter Shikari arrived onstage, the atmosphere was utterly electric; lead singer and frontman Rou Reynolds had to wait a solid five minutes or so before his voice could be heard over the deafening roars of the crowd.
After a brief introduction (which was greeted by even more cheers), the band opened with 2009’s ‘Solidarity’. A frequent opener for their gigs, the track built off the crowd’s bubbling enthusiasm and set the tone for what was to come next. Having whipping the crowd up into a frenzy, Enter Shikari proceeded to unleash one of their best known and most loved tracks, ‘Sorry You’re Not A Winner’. Despite playing it uncharacteristically early – it is usually reserved for the band’s closing track or encore – the already-lively crowd exploded upon hearing the opening riff, with everybody present religiously chanting the lyrics.
The arguably softer ‘One True Colour’ was played next, a welcome contrast to the previous track’s relentlessness. This was needed, as the next three or four songs were anything but. In between ‘The Last Garrison’ and ‘Destabilise’ came ‘No Sleep Tonight’; another one of Enter Shikari’s defining songs, this was the first time it had been played live in five years. The band themselves could barely be heard over the ear-splitting noise coming from the crowd, with the catchy and infectious “You’re not getting any sleep tonight” being belted out over and over. It was an unexpected, yet welcome, return for what is one of their most iconic songs.
‘Radiate’ and ‘The Jester’ followed next, continuing the track list’s unrelenting pace, before a surprise acoustic rendition of ‘Juggernauts’ was performed by Reynolds. Having moved to the centre of the venue – sat on a tiny platform, with nothing but a piano, and surrounded on all angles – his fans looked on, eager and curious. Strikingly different to the aggressive, hard core sound of the previous songs played, Reynolds’ tender vocals drifted over the crowd in what was a delicate and emotional solo performance. A number of people were visibly shaken, brought to tears by this unexpected turn of events.
After a rousing ovation, which lasted a fair while, the band returned to the stage with ‘Gandhi Mate, Gandhi’, a remixed version of ‘Arguing With Thermometers’ and ‘Torn Apart’, before ending on ‘Mothership’. The performance of ‘Mothership’ deserve special praise; whilst the entire gig was immaculately played out, the atmosphere during this track was something else altogether. After turning the lights down, drenching the venue in pitch-black darkness, an eerie alien conversation played out over the speakers before the song (and crowd) erupted into life, with changing lighting effects blasting across the floor and covering the crowd. It was a suitably strong finish to what had been an incredible set.
Unsatisfied (and perhaps insatiable), the crowd demanded an encore and Enter Shikari duly obliged. After they played ‘Redshift’ – their latest single – came, perhaps, what was the highlight of the entire show. An extended version of ‘Anaesthetist’ soon blared out over the speakers, followed by a remixed version of the same track; everybody went utterly wild, dancing and singing as if it was the last gig they’d ever go to. Such was the intensity of these two tracks that a number of people had to be carried out, having fainted due to the pressure and heat generated by the crowd (or having been caught up in the venue-wide moshpit that opened up). Shortly after, the sound faded out, and the crowd shuffled out of the venue. Despite being sweaty and exhausted, the few who had an ounce of energy left had massive grins on their faces.
All things considered, Enter Shikari’s visit to the Victoria Warehouse was undoubtedly a massive success. A phenomenal set list, featuring some of the band’s biggest and best tracks – coupled with the technical brilliance of the lighting and stage effects – ensured that this was a gig to remember.
Sorry, you’re not a winner – except you, Manchester.