Enter Shikari

Enter Shikari at New Century Hall review | Eclectic bangers to fire up the crowd

★★★★☆
Enter Shikari’s hybrid sound is tricky to pin down. From orchestral symphonies to thumping drum and bass, the Shikari sonic palette is an eclectic one. But one thing that can be said with utmost certainty is that this wildly unpredictable nature is exactly what places Enter Shikari a cut above the rest – and what made their show at Manchester’s New Century Hall a gig to savour.

With a diverse selection of electro-rock anthems and grime-infused stompers, the variety offers up something for everyone, and it’s a back catalogue that absolutely guarantees a live show full of twists, turns and total anarchy.

While Shikari are regularly able to sell out venues like Alexandra Palace, they’re no strangers to a smaller room — if anything, they thrive in such a setting, the ferality amplified by the sweaty intimacy of a compact space. While Manchester’s New Century Hall is no basement venue, the room allows the perfect balance, with enough space for a spectacle of a lightshow, yet still tightly packed to ensure the crowd can get up-close-and-personal in the pits.

By the time Shikari hit the stage, the room is poised and ready to go. Their arrival is fittingly cinematic, with lights buzzing into action one by one, before the rockers file out onto the stage. Opener ‘It Hurts’ warms things up, fans grooving along to the single off the upcoming album A Kiss For The Whole World, all before the rug is pulled from under you. Without a moment to catch your breath, the band crash into ‘Juggernauts’, and all inhibitions are thrown haphazardly out the window.

Enter Shikari band

From here on out, the chaos is in full swing. Vocalist Rou Reynolds bounds down to lap up the anarchy, performing gloriously catchy ‘{ The Dreamer’s Hotel }’ and the halcyon delights of ‘Hectic’ from the side of the crowd, who match the enthusiasm that oozes out of Reynolds, eager to pull the pit back just an inch further, screech along directly into another fan’s face with just a touch more ferocity.

By the time Reynolds clambers back onstage, the adrenaline pulsing throughout the room is undeniable. “I can feel the good energy from every fibre of your kinetic beings,” he jokes, with a mile-wide smile.

That’s the thing that makes the Enter Shikari experience so unique and delightful. There’s a symbiosis, a constant awareness of how much energy the crowd are offering, trying to match it, and then fans teasing just a bit more out of the band in return. 

It results in moments where all the members smirk to themselves, totally aware of the game of cat and mouse, dead-set on driving the crowd mad. It’s a science, an intricately tailored game, where the smoothness of ‘the pressure’s on’ cuts into tracks like ‘Bloodshot’, moving from introspective croons to full-blown gutturals. They’re unpredictable, but Shikari always seem to know what the people want.

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Even if we consider the decision to not indulge the crowd in an infamous ‘Quickfire Round’ (a mash-up of their most gruelling BPMs back-to-back), the intricately balanced setlist proves to be perhaps more satisfying overall. While instinctively this may seem like a shame, the even spacing of soaring dance-alongs like ‘satellites * *’, sweaty fingered acoustic numbers like ‘Stop The Clocks’, and storming moshpit tunes like ‘Labyrinth’ and ‘Radiate’, proves fabulous. 

Even classic tunes like ‘Sorry, You’re Not A Winner’ are spiced up for the show, electing to knock out a filthy remix that has the room skanking rabidly. Again, these guys totally understand what their fans want from them, even if the fans don’t know it themselves.

By the time the encore is in motion, fans are eager to bask in the final wave of glory. The ‘System…’ monologue is performed in its entirety, amping the crowd up for the oncoming onslaught that is ‘…Meltdown’ – and, predictably, the room is thrown into orbit yet again. Closing track ‘Live Outside’ is a worthy send off, as people clamber to crowdsurf just one more time, silently wishing the night didn’t have to end so soon. The power of Shikari radiates throughout the room long after the band leave the stage and one thing is clear: Shikari are a triumph.


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