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The Hippodrome, Kingston, January 17th

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"[i]I don’t know if you know, but we’re a pretty big deal right now...[/i]” Rou Reynolds, an overgrown man-child clad in shorts and a baseball cap, addresses the pile of sweat-drenched, feral kids currently turning Kingston’s Hippodrome into a giant, communal sauna. The punchline? “[i]Yeah baby! We’re Number One![/i]”

That’s right – like an incomprehensible fable ripped from a parallel dimension, an album of politically charged screamo is outselling the commercial behemoth that is Adele’s ‘21’. But while Enter Shikari’s mainstream success may be somewhat unexpected (and sadly, by Sunday’s charts, normal order has been boringly resumed, with ‘A Flash Flood Of Colour’ settling at a still enormously respectable Number Four), tonight’s genre-melding show provides a more than adequate explanation as to why so many people have taken this band to their hearts.

These St Albans boys thrive on their own diversity. Watch, as they snap from thrashing post-hardcore to bass-wobbling dubstep quicker than you can say “[i]womp womp[/i]” – and incite total moshpit devotion with both. Tire of the chugging alienation of ‘Destabilise’? Worry not, for in a few moments a declaration that “[i]We’re here to fucking rock![/i]” will tip proceedings into skronky, electronic rave territory. Adhering entirely to [i]Friends[/i]’ ‘beef trifle’ school of thought, Enter Shikari understand that good-quality ingredients – no matter how disparate – will generally create a pretty good end product too.

Kingston clearly agrees wholeheartedly. With an endless stream of battered crowd surfers resembling a youthful human centipede, tonight’s new album-centric set is greeted with total and utter adoration by the capacity crowd. ‘Gandhi Mate, Gandhi’ sees Reynolds spitting out anti-establishment missives like a particularly angry Mike Skinner as bassist Chris Batten mounts a nearby speaker stack. ‘Search Party’ causes potentially the world’s first circle pit to an acoustic guitar, while ‘Arguing With Thermometers’ blitzes through on propulsive riffs and wonky beats. By the time we get to ‘Sssnakepit’, the ravaged pit has become an exhausted, homoerotic mess of clockwise chasing and collapsed hugs, a teeming sea of flesh singing back every word of a track that was released just a day before this show.

Tonight Enter Shikari can simply do no wrong. Their ‘chuck it all in and knock it up to 11’ approach might have all the subtlety of a Lady Gaga awards outfit but, live, they’re a blitzkrieg of visceral thrills and exuberant fun. They may not have won the chart race, but they’re still surging ahead of their peers.

[i]Lisa Wright[/i]

This article originally appeared in the February 4th issue of NME

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