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Review: Enter Shikari defy genre limits at Alexandra Palace

There’s a lot to praise about Enter Shikari’s phenomenal headline show at Alexandra Palace, but above all else, this weekend the four-piece proved that it is possible for a DIY band to surpass all expectations set for them by their genre.

It wasn’t all that long ago that the St Albans mob were headlining Camden’s Barfly, then the Underworld, the Garage and the Roundhouse. On Saturday night though, metalheads, rockers, punks and ravers climbed the hill to The People’s Palace for a masterclass in how to raise the metaphorical music bar in 2016.

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Tonight’s message is bold, brash and brave

On the surface, the addition of The Wonder Years, The King Blues and Arcane Boots won’t have made complete sense to everyone in attendance, but that’s sort of the point. By their own admission, Shikari aren’t a band that have ever played by the rules. They’re still as DIY as they can be given the circumstances, and they’re still calling out political wrongs which, like it or not, has a way of sometimes suppressing the potential success of musicians. Their support billing does much the same, be it with emotional pop-punk hooks, fierce ska melodies or straight-up riffs.

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“Do you have the lung capacity?”

That’s the challenge set by Shikari frontman Rou Reynolds as he levitates above the crowd. Pointing out the band’s dedication to maximum sound, he talks us through the quadruple speaker system they’ve brought with them. Basically, it’s huge and we’ll have to bellow much louder to keep up. Behind them are frantic projections of space, a flurry of strobe lights and a Gandhi meets South Park animation that’s unlikely to exit our minds anytime soon. Playing by the unwritten arena rules also sees Rou sprint to the sound desk for a euphoric duo of Dear Future Historians… and Juggernauts (on piano).

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“We have to start somewhere…”

It’s a setlist that’s littered with the best of 2015’s The Mindsweep but even before the likes of Anaethetist, The One True Colour and The Last Garrison cause the room to irrupt, the headliners kick off with a fan favourite in Sorry, You’re Not A Winner. “We have to start somewhere,” Rou says, “And this seems as good a place as any”. Slipshod goes on to head up the ‘rowdy part of the set’, followed swiftly by The Jester, and a remix of There’s A Price On Your Head. All that and a cover of Robbie Willliams’ Angels proves, oddly enough, that Shikari are willing to take on anyone tonight.

“This is a hobby that’s got out of hand”

Somewhere between triumph and disbelief, is the facial expression shared between all four members of Enter Shikari. “This shouldn’t be happening,” Rou exclaims, continuing to reel off the reasons why the success of The Mindsweep tour has bettered all of their expectations. But it’s testament to their 17-years of determination and innovated approach to making rock music that Shikari stand tall and mighty at Ally Pally. Future festival headliners? We reckon so.

Reviewed: Alexandra Palace, 27/02/16 | Photos: Nottingham Motorpoint Arena, 20/02/16

Like these photos? See more of Steven’s work at stevenhaddock.co.uk and find him on Twitter @stevenhaddock.

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