Alban Arena, St Albans, Sunday July 22
Rave metallers fight the power in face-off with the authorities.
A mobile CCTV unit skulks in the bushes outside. In the foyer covert cameras roam, and behind the mahogany panelling in the toilet an army response unit are ready to spring. “There’s 16 plain clothes police officers here tonight,” sweats Enter Shikari’s tour manager beforehand. “Until this morning we weren’t sure this was gonna happen.”
For 12 months the local council have been trying to prevent this homecoming, but in keeping with the DIY defiance of the band, they’ve brought all the kit themselves, gathered together a bill of local hardcore and put on their very own Herts-stock in a hall which is more used to hosting panto than pandemonium. The Tweenies arrive in three weeks – someone radio for back up.
And Shikari don’t so much as reclaim home turf, as dig it up and re-lay it with trance-core flooring. Rou Reynolds practises with metal-Capoeira like a new rave Rollins, while Chris, Rory and Rob all swing like individual wrecking balls.
It’s fucking fun. ‘Return To Energizer’ is a quasi-killa anthem, ‘Labyrinth’ is like Pantera pan-frying Pendulum and ‘No Sweat’ is a shatter-punk mortar. When they return for ‘OK Time For Plan B’ (dedicated to the council “who don’t do one thing for music or youth in this city”) most of the band have chundered through over exertion and all the support bands invade the stage. Diving into a sea of raised hands Rou proclaims, “The aftershow is down the park, we want to see as much White Lightning as possible”; 800 apostles follow him in a victorious conga. Old Bill: next time, bring body armour.