When a band is considered to be one of the best live bands in Britain, a ticket to see them comes with one of the biggest expectations of a gig that I have ever had. Tonight, Wolverhampton’s Civic Hall was host to Enter Shikari and “The Mindsweep Tour.” In quite a grand venue, tonight’s expectations were set to be challenged.
First things first, FatherSon were the first of the night’s acts.
A Scottish band that seemed slightly out of place on the bill with Enter Shikari and Feed the Rhino, but they still brought their Biffy-esque sound as best they could. Ross Leighton has a very powerful voice, and it carried well.
But in typical, first band on the bill fashion, the crowd were pretty static. That didn’t stop them giving it their all, and gaining a few fans in the process.
Then Allusondrugs came out.
Having been on the bill at Shikari’s (almost) annual Christmas gig, they filled me with a touch of excitement. I’d been told that they were similar to Nirvana (if Nirvana was from Yorkshire) in their performance and music. That’s where they were wrong. Allusondrugs are nothing like Nirvana. They are a totally separate beast. Yes, the grunge sound was there, and the appearance of one of the guitarists was almost exactly like Cobain, but they are something else indeed. You could see why Shikari bring them on tour.
Unfortunately, the chatter from frontman Jason Moules was lost, in a mixture of his accent and possibly how much buzz there was in the room, but his manic vocals and occasional yelps were pretty damn good.
The set was tight, heavy and enjoyable. Allusondrugs are definitely a band to look out for in the future.
A short (Taylor Swift filled (No. Seriously)) wait later, the lights went out, and Feed the Rhino hit the stage.
Well, hit is an understatement, it was more like crashing a car into the stage at 70mph. As soon as Feed the Rhino stepped on stage, you’d have thought that this was their gig, with the crowd instantly whipped into a frenzy.
They commanded a wall of death so large that it had those on the balcony picking their jaws off the floor at the sheer size of it, before demanding all phones, torches, lights raised in the air, so they could take a photo of it.
By the time they exited the stage, the band had raised their profile from small rooms like Birmingham’s Asylum 2, to belonging on big stages like this.
Following a series of announcements, and a selection of dance music from the ages, Enter Shikari took the stage, with a light show that’d make Blackpool illuminations jealous. Light ropes hung from the middle of a backdrop containing the Shikari logo, which was the centrepiece of the entire light show.
The first words out of Rou Reynolds’ mouth are “an appeal to the struggling and striving stakeholders of this planet,” a message that sums Shikari up. They plough through their set, with Rou getting a ladder and climbing up onto the balcony, uniting the balcony and the stalls. With the set comprising of hits from both the current album and older classics, you’d be hard pressed to find something you wouldn’t enjoy. “Gandhi Mate, Gandhi” hit like artillery, before throwing a bit of “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” in there, which added a comedic element to the song. A mash up of “The Last Garrison” and “Juggernauts” was unexpected, but pretty damn amazing too.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a greatest hits kind of tour, as every single person not only sung, but bellowed the words back at the band, and it seemed to humble the 4 lads from St. Albans, who were all smiles, all night long. Hearing a crowd bellow “YOU FUCKING SPANNER!!!” must be humbling to say the least, and it felt magical being stood in the midst of that crowd.
But then, following “Anaesthetist,” and the evacuation of the stage by Rob, Chris and Rory C, Rou sat at the piano, and played a song so hauntingly beautiful, it brought the crowd to a stunned silence. For all of 3 seconds, anyway. Then they joined in with “Dear Future Historians…” which I thought may not play so well with the usual Shikari gigs, which are all action, draining, riotous bouncy castles of joy. How I loved to be proven wrong. It was so beautiful that it felt that he was singing it only to you, one on one. The chant of “just put your weight on my shoulders,” as the rest of the band re-joined him on stage, was a moment of pure unity, a moment that Enter Shikari actively try to make a permanent political reality.
Back to the usual for the last 2 songs of the night, kicking off with their latest single “Slipshod,” involving the smashing of a vase that was bantered about on the stage by Rory C, Chris and Sgt Rolfe, and ending with “Sssnakepit,” signing off from a slickly produced, VERY well lit, wondrous set, that (I for one) would love to see in a Headlining slot on the main stage of a major festival in the near future.
Now, off to the after party.
Massive thanks to Guest reviewer Mr Adam Reynolds (Enter Shikari fan), to whom writing credit is due, for his company and top notch summary of the nights events!