Live Review: Enter Shikari

Enter, stage left: the band about to blow your amps, speakers and minds...Barfly, Liverpool, Friday, May 22

They burned no buildings, toppled no statues and at the time of writing have caused zero fatalities, yet Enter Shikari were undoubtedly on the frontline of the revolution. Spreading the word via the internet, their videos clocked up squillions of YouTube hits (remember them days, eh?), they rampaged through sold-out tours and stormed the Top Five albums, all without a record deal. They were the music industry’s prophets of doom.

And if this Liverpool Sound City show is anything to go by, the revolution has mutated from a DIY revolt into declamatory message-spreading. Yep, for second album ‘Common Dreads’ they’ve ‘gone political’ and, as such, devote much of tonight urging fans to vote in the upcoming European elections. While it’s debatable that if the nation is to wake from an apathetic coma it’s going to be through the medium of post-hardcore trance, you have to admire their ambition to take on the evils of modern imperialism with nothing save glowsticks and the threat of A&E.

After the slightly cheesy opening of the album’s title track, the show is a relentlessly fun bombardment of the senses. Frontman Rou Reynolds is a man set on destroying everything: the speakers, the monitors, the Barfly, himself, our ear-drums and, most impressively, the divide between band and fan. When he’s not singing happy birthday to his dad or leading chants of “fuck the BNP!” he’s running through the crowd to scream in the back row’s faces. You can certainly see why Enter Shikari have such a strong fan-base: it’s earned through dedication and sheer hard work, rather than merely bought through contrived marketing. The songs themselves feed off this relationship; amplified by the chaos of fans climbing pillars or jumping off amps, they feel urgent, unpredictable and exciting. Newies such as ‘Havoc B’ showcase the kind of filthy dubstep basslines that would make Skream, well, scream, while highlight ‘The Jester’ sounds like Blur’s ‘Parklife’ being battered to death by a glowstick-wielding psychopath.

It’s questionable whether their slightly obvious message will gain much attention from, or even reach, the masses, but with a live show like this, you try telling their fans they don’t really matter.

Stephen Kelly

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