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In 2006, music was looking fairly dull. Arctic Monkeys had brought a bit of quirkiness to the indie scene but bands like Muse had started to provide music for the masses and not their original fan base. Then, I was given the opportunity to listen to 'Take To The Skies' by Enter Shikari. Needless to say, my musical world was impacted - and hard. This was a band that seemed to hold no boundaries, they took the hardcore guitar lines of metal bands and combined them with beeps and bloops of synthesiser, all held together by shout along lyrics and a narrative about aliens and humans battling it out for control of planet earth. Since then Shikari have gone on to be one of the biggest and best live bands to have originated from this country- playing festivals across the world in the summer, plus large headline dates in every continent. By 2011, it is taken for granted that tonight will be a great night. With two full length albums under their belts, two albums of b sides, a new live album and two stand alone singles just released in the past year, they have plenty of material to choose from. And they played the best of it at The Ritz.

Upon entering this alien venue, I was surprised to see there was a balcony area for spectators to stand and watch the gig from. The Ritz was set out like a posh theatre - somewhere you'd expect to see a pantomime in Christmas or even a theatrical play at any time of year. Surely not a place that you'd expect to be conquered by a genre defining rock band? My question was answered immediately by looking at the stage set up. Synth check, laptop check, Gibson SG check, massive drum kit check, fluorescent green triangles lining the walls to suit the bands latest image- check. First up were Let Live and Your Demise, two hardcore bands with a similar sound to them. Playing sets full of circle pit opportunity's, both of these support acts provided a full backing for Shikari's energy filled show. Your Demise even had a set of their own fans there- maybe a reason why the night is sold out and packed to the brim with sweaty, long haired fans. "Circle pit! Circle pit!" squawked the lead singer of Your Demise, dancing around in a little red jacket like an elf from hell.

ENTER SHIKARI: The tension rises as the crowd begin band chants "AND STILL WE WILL BE HERE, STANDING LIKE STATUES!" and "SHIKARI!" before the lights dim and the screams of a thousand scene girls crack the air. Without warning the band run onto the stage and strike a pose before the opening synth lines of "Destabilise" causes a mass bounce among the entire audience. "WE NEED TO FUCKING ERUPT!" shouts band leader and lead singer Rou Reynolds before a beatdown of mass proportions occurs with guitar player Rory C bouncing on the balls of his feet. As the song concludes, smoke billows from the front of the stage, totally immersing the fans. "Manchesterrrr!" declares bassist and backing vocalist Chris Batten before excerpts of crowd pleaser "Mothership" fade in and out declaring a moment of rest before the frontman orders "time to get fully involved!". This sparks a dubstep remix of the track before the guitarist lets out a burst of distortion which nods towards the beginning of the studio track. By the end of this second song, the band are already wet with sweat, with bassist Chris surfing on the crowd.

Three tracks from the bands second album "Common Dreads" are delivered in a tight and seemingly fast manner. "Zzzzonked", "Havoc A" and "Hectic" with the crowd physically going hectic for all three. "Everyone act like crabs- get down and crawl about" Rou dictates in the final moment of "Havoc A". Next up (to my extreme pleasure) was "Return To Energizer" a single from the first album.
It featured probably the most awe inspiring moment of the night, as the track slows in the middle and allows for the crowd to raise their hands as green lasers whiz about the venue and a fast and uplifting synth line is played out. "THATS. NOT. WHAT. YOU. WANT!" bellows the lead singer as the band smash through the calming atmosphere they have just created into the hardcore/guitar led fusions of the rest of the song. "No Sssweat" follows in a similar vein with Rou announcing before the song "Look around you Manchester, look at your friends, this is the generation that will change the world. Not because they want to or they think it'd be a good idea to, but because they HAVE to. There is one thing I need from you guys tonight to secure my faith in you as a generation and that is MOVEMENT. Circle pit! Get stuck in!" "The Jester" and brand new track 'Arguing With Thermometers' show a return of the repetitive synth line into the nights proceedings- a sign that the Enter Shikari sound of now is definitely more electro based. "Quelle Surprise"- though only released earlier this year- has already become a fan favourite and the band have decided to use that factor to its full potential with an extended version. "If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything." The band have grown up, they've seen the state of politics at the moment, and they want a say- a bigger say than they got on their second LP. Whats the way to do this? Create incredibly catchy rock songs with heavily motivational lyrics in order to get the youth of today on side. "WE'RE AWARE THEY'RE TRANNA TAKE AWAY OUR DREAMS."

A surprising addition "Gap In The Fence" sees Rou on acoustic guitar while he sings this more ballad number from "Common Dreads". "No Sleep Tonight" provides the poppiest moment in tonight rota while new song "Sssnakepit" causes one of the largest moshpits I think I have ever been part of. "Yeah yeah we're nice guys, UNTIL WE'RE NOT!" The coupling of "Sorry, You're Not A Winner" and "Juggernauts" finishes the show in style, with the crowd smoking as they are released into the cold, cold night. Epic win for Enter Shikari, once again.

Review by Callum Barnes
All photos by Ian Taylor -

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