Hearing ‘I Got Love’ reminded me who The King Blues were; I hadn’t listened to them since my angst ridden years at secondary school. Initially I had my doubts about the choice of The King Blues for an opening act but fortunately my moment of foolishness was short lived. I suppose you could describe their songs as a hybrid of ska, folk and hardcore punk. The exploration of each of these genres separately and simultaneously in each track was vaguely reminiscent of the way Enter Shikari transcend musical genres in their work.
Before launching into ‘Off With Their Heads’ which was boldly political, lead vocalist Itch was keen to acknowledge the inspiration behind the track in these words; “I’ve seen this pig fucking government dropping bombs for peace, slashing benefits, turning venues and clubs into coffee chains, they detest us, they detest our way of life, they detest our right to live and exist in a way that may not benefit their pockets for a second. FUCK THEM!”. Incidentally these words are an excerpt from a Facebook post announcing their single and music video. Facebook has actually prevented the band from advertising the post due to the “threatening language” in its content.
The bar had already been set high, so waiting for The Wonder Years I was cautious as to what to expect. I had heard about the Wonder Years through my ex, whose musical opinion I never really held with high regard. If Miles Davis was flippantly dismissed as “boring” wouldn’t you do the same thing?
More to the point, The Wonder Years set was even worse than the generic nightmare I’d conjured up in my head. Between you and me I’m surprised I survived the hour of what can only be described as auditory assault. Although the crowd loved it, for me personally it was a tortuously monotonous hour of my life that rivalled some of my lectures, and the Roman Catholic Sunday Masses that characterized much of my childhood. Trying to distinguish track changes was infuriating because they all sounded the same! Every. Single. Song. Thankfully my friend made the ordeal far more bearable with occasional interjection of wit and sarcasm. That and of course knowing that we were that much closer to seeing Enter Shikari.
WE BEGIN TO REVIVE!
Although Nottingham was the third tour stop, lead vocalist Rou Reynolds, who my friend aptly described as “a rugged Simon Amstel”, admitted that the show would be a special one for them as they had “never headlined before” and had always been a supporting act, as evidenced by the endearing comment “Linkin Park are gonna be up next! Yeah…”
The crowd were far more excitable than they had been during the two preceding acts. Despite the size of the venue, their performance somehow had an intimate feeling – firstly because it wasn’t not confined to the stage alone. ‘Dear Future Historians…’ saw Rou Reynolds playing a piano that had been set up dead centre of the arena, that was almost pitch black save the streaks of blue light that intersected where Reynolds was sat. The effect of that was to make him take the form of an almost mythical being. A sea of sporadic lights rippled in the dark. Various mobile phones flickered to life as the audience were eager to immortalise the moment by either taking photos and/or filming videos if they weren’t already doing so.
This use of space allowed the band, Rou in particular, to interact with the audience in a way that seemed really genuine. Choosing instead to crowd surf from the centre of the arena to stage with an audience member, as opposed to of getting frustrated at the fact that he could only get as far as playing the intro of ‘Juggernauts’ due to technical difficulties with his wireless microphone, he brushed off the inconvenience with typically self-deprecating humour; “We’re a punk bank, why would we need to play the piano anyway?…Look at us, we’re headlining and already we think we’re good enough for, worthy of, wireless microphones? What happened to us?”.
Indeed I was left wondering that in the aftermath of a performance that was both sonically and visually energetic, exhilarating and ethereal. You might have realised that ‘Redshift’ is a departure from their unapologetically revolutionary sound that is politically charged, wildly unpredictable, and deafeningly genre defying. Reflecting on the lyrics of ‘Redshift’ that struck me the most; “When looking up, you only saw a blank slate…It appears that heaven’s been abandoned… A supergiant erupts, into a supernova. The ultimate sacrifice and we are the descendants!” begged the question of whether or not the band were apologetic and afraid of the stratospheric success they have enjoyed so far, and whether or not that was a lyrical commentary that was specific to them as a band being “the ultimate sacrifice”, or a more general oracular comment about our species as a whole. If you think Redshift does sounds comparatively tame, whilst I don’t disagree I think it is worth for us to bear in mind the fact that each song by Enter Shikari is something of a unique snowflake. The Mindsweep is consistent with album they have released, but it remains to be seen what other songs are released to accompany ‘Redshift’ as to whether or not Enter Shikari have, like most of their tour so far, well and truly sold out.
Enter Shikari are currently on the UK leg of their European tour of their most recent album ‘The Mindsweep’ with support from The King Blues, and The Wonder Years
Image: Gergely Csatari via Flickr
Co-Editor of the Music Section at University of Nottingham’s IMPACT Magazine.