Monday, December 06, 2021

Enter Shikari transported us beyond Alexandra Palace as a crowd became one

Alexandra Palace is a truly legendary venue, whether it’s the high curved ceilings that lend themselves to powerful acoustics or the impressive production facilities that allow for exaggerated light shows, it’s a place to expect greatness. 

Enter Shikari took advantage of everything the venue had to offer and as we all crowded into that grand hall there was an electricity in the air.

As we slipped closer to the 9pm start time, the commencing start of the show was marked with imagery pouring out onto the side walls of the hall. 

A streaming burst of purples and pinks flushed out of the lights, depicting a graphic countdown starting at ten minutes. The minutes slowly ticked down, with sporadic announcements being made to signify different milestones in the ticking graphic, each time the crowd’s eruptions getting slightly more manic as anticipation grew.

Then suddenly the clock hit zero and we were plunged into darkness as a familiar instrumental echo of the track ‘Live Outside’ trickled from the speakers. Hundreds of hands went into the air, forming the four-fingered upside-down triangle that symbolises changing the system – a message the band carry through in the majority of their songs.

With a flair of white light - almost blinding the audience - the band broke out into ‘THE GREAT UNKNOWN’.  This being a fitting track to open the show as it tackles feelings of uncertainty – with ten thousand people chanting along to the lyrics “If there's anyone out there / Just give me a sign”, uncertainty becomes a positive feeling. At that moment the tone was set, and the evening was spurred on by the unwavering energy everyone in the hall committed to.

Familiar classics from Enter Shikari were churned out and each was met with huge pits being opened up amongst the crowd as hundreds clambered to join them. The whole set was a blurred sea of bodies bumping and enthralled screams along to lyrics. The only thing breaking through the crowd was powerful strobe lights, cutting through the air like lasers. Their intensity and motion felt beyond the limits of normal production, as if the room had unlocked a new level of live music.

The group was only made up of frontman Rou Reynolds, Rob Rolfe and Rory Clewlow as Chris Batten the bassist unfortunately was not present due to coronavirus. They used the recordings of his performance at their test show to fill in his missing moments and featured a short video message from Batten to introduce the encore – his presence was missed but it didn’t limit the impact the band had.

Once this message disappeared, Reynolds performed a haunting rendition of ‘Constellations, it let silence fall for the first time across the whole performance. A moment that highlighted why Enter Shikari can captivate so many – a message is always at the forefront of their work. It is one of sustainability and societal improvement, something that so many relate to and support. “We need to use our own two feet to walk these tracks // And we have to squad up //And we have to watch each other's backs”. In that moment there was total unity. Then closing the show as it began, the song ‘Live Outside’ was accompanied by huge streams of confetti, flying around the venue and the bridge reached its peak. 

The joyous number was the perfect choice to end the evening, as people rushed to jump around for one last time in herds of community. The evening glistening with purpose and connection.

Jessica McCarrick


Image: Jessica McCarrick

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