With the lights dimmed excepting for a sole spotlight fixed on Enter Shikari’s lead man Rou, a speech, so peppered with socialist rhetoric that, to read, one could have mistaken it for Marx and Engel’s Communist Manifesto, was delivered as a prelude to ‘Solidarity’ – one of the second album’s defining tracks. ‘Look around, these are your people…this is the generation that will change the world…we didn’t ask for this weight on our shoulders but it’s been put there’.
These were the incendiary words bandying about as the lights were raised to the roar of the crowd. Such talk of a ‘stagnant generation’ and ‘the movement’, which permeated the gig (rally), would have been enough to make Mr. Jong-Il blush and Stalin turn in his grave. These inflammatory words nonetheless managed to reduce the swelling in our ears caused by the support bands (noise merchants), Your Demise and Let Live.
Upon leaving the sanctuary of the Basement Bar, in which we sheltered said aural onslaught beneath an ominous mould of Tutankhamun’s head, the excitement grew within us. We were taken back to the respective first times we had seen the band, and were hoping to recapture a glimmer of our sweaty youth. The scent put us off at first, as Nottingham’s rock teens traipsed back from the circle pits battered and bruised but elated all the same. Their opener, ‘Destabilise’, a one-off track sharing the name of their recent European tour, disappointed and led us to the premature conclusion that at twenty and twenty one, to use the song’s own lyrics, ‘we don’t belong here’. However, we weathered the aforementioned Marxist storm and were rewarded with a winner from their first album, ‘Mothership’. From here on in we ignored the stench, joined the masses and set about recapturing our youth. The band unleashed the best of their electro-metalcore, old and new, and we unleashed our inner children, ‘moshing’ furiously. Rou’s tour of the stairs and balcony, the dangerous side, climaxed in an impressive slide down the lighting area’s sloping roof and crowd surf back to the stage. Rock on!
During a slower number towards the end of the gig (rally) the entire crowd sat down in adoration. Owing to an injury sustained during a fall in the mosh pit one of us could not indulge in the expression. This strange act was one of many moments that reminded us of Enter Shikari’s odd place in the music world: one of admirable success but somehow still ‘cult’ and underground. The band’s interaction with the crowd, though nigh on revolutionary incitement at times, was on a personal and equal level, making the gig seem smaller and more intimate than it was. As we write this now though, despite fears that twenty-one is ‘old’, quite severe coccyx pain and t-shirts in the wash for the second time – just to make sure the fragrance has completely gone (!) – Enter Shikari did not disappoint on the whole. In fact, their performance was full of energy, honesty, and sufficient screaming and huge drops to excite the mosher within and even give two university reviewers plenty to say of a Friday morning. That said, by the time their finishing song ‘OK, Time for Plan B’ was almost done, we were done. Satisfied and quite bruised we pushed free of the swarm our political views unmoved.
Nick Evans and Michael Rigby