Enter Shikari with Support from Hacktvist and Wounds
1st May 2013 – Nerve Centre, Londonderry
It seems to be a rule of thumb- don’t ask me why- that in recent times, you just don’t wear a band’s merchandise to their gig. However, this show is apparently the exception. Before the first act even gets near the stage, there are a handful of die-hard Shikari fans already battling it out in order to keep their place within the front row, flaunting their skinny fit t-shirts and neon wristbands in the process. The rest of the crowd drift in and out of the venue, the more casual fans keeping their distance comfortably and warily ensuring their arms (and drinks) remain out of some of the fanatics already swaying paths. This is obviously not going to be an evening for the faint-hearted.
The Dublin natives, Wounds, kick off the evening with their straight up, honest-to-Goth brand of joyously old-school rock and roll. The quartet certainly succeeds in getting the growing crowd baying, as Aidan Coogan (vocals) encourages them to be as vocal as possible, in the form of sing-along choruses and engaging in the general band-to-audience banter. Despite some initial heckling, they really come into their own by the time they reach the angst-filled ‘No Future’, and have the clear majority on their side by the penultimate ‘Killing Spree’, before leaving the crowd with a renewed sense of vigour.
However, fresh out of Milton Keynes, the grime metal outfit, Hacktivist, are quite a shock to the system. They certainly waste no time whatsoever in turning the amps up to eleven (and a half) and proceeding to have a pretty good go at tearing the venue apart. Starting with the self-titled track ‘Hacktivist’ and ripping their way through a searing set, they win the crowd over almost immediately with their sheer enthusiasm alone(I almost felt sorry for anyone trying to get photographs, as “staying still” doesn’t appear to be listed within their extensive vocabulary). By the time they get to their most recent release, “Elevate”, it is clear that this is a band with a message, as the joint vocalists, J. Hurley and Ben Marvin, encourage the crowd to give a middle to finger to “corrupt governments and liars who won’t learn”, only to then launch into an explosive cover of ‘Niggas In Paris’. Hacktivist are probably one of the most promising live acts to emerge from the recent grime metal scene, and are definitely worth keeping an eye on.
It is highly evident however, no matter how close both support acts come to stealing the show, that tonight is definitely all about Enter Shikari. Complete with an automated countdown, the excitement is by this stage, palpable.
After a little while longer, the genre-bending headliners finally burst onto the stage and into life. The die-hards and more casual gig-goers finally merge into a singular mass of violently jumping and fist-pumping, spasmodically head banging blur of ecstatic fans alike. Spewing out a string of hits from both their older releases and the newest album, ‘A Flash Flood Of Colour’, Enter Shikari perform as if it was their last night on earth; frenetically and with both superior technical ability and precision. (And also with a full on light show.) It’s not surprising in the slightest that, as this is obviously the approach they adopt in regard to all of their shows, whether they’re playing to sold out stadiums brimming with people, or be it off the beaten track, as such, to a half full venue mid-week, that even after ten years together, they are still one of the best live acts out there.
Playing through a mixture of all the most popular and some of the more obscure tracks from their extensive back catalogue, highlights include the cult favourite, ‘Sorry You’re Not A Winner’, the more gently paced ‘Juggernauts’, a flawless rendition of the more dance-influenced ‘Destabilise’, and the more recent head banger that is ‘Arguing With Thermometers’. Rou (Reynolds, vocals and electronics) goes back and forth between the electronics and vocal duties, playing up to the captive crowd, and Rory (Clewlow, guitar and backing vocals) decides to crowd surf- much to the dismay of security- not just once during the show, but again in the much lauded encore. On the second occasion, he even manages to touch the ceiling and doesn’t even need to try to raise the roof: they tore that off long ago.
As if any further proof was needed, tonight only goes to show that Enter Shikari are still a band in their creative prime and as compelling a live act as ever. The fact that they’ve chosen to play venues like the Nerve Centre, amongst others, to mark their anniversary, is a refreshing move that proves that ten years on, they’re still just as devoted and grateful to their fans. As Rou himself said “In a way, since we’ve started, everything has changed and yet nothing has changed.”