For me, it was actually quite exciting to know that I was going to be going back to one of my favourite event veunues, (Cambridge Junction) let alone to see the amazing live act that was Enter Shikari! They are a band that I had listened to as a teenager, so it was great to be given the opportunity to nostalgically reminise my teen years as I saw them perform live right in front of my very eyes, here and now in my early thirties!
Enter Shikari are known in the music industry predominantly as a rock band. However their music genre is actually very diverse as they actually class themselves as Rock, Punk, Hardcore and Drum’n’Bass.
Originally from their home town of St. Albans, the band formed in 1999 (previously known as Hybrid) and have gone on to become very successful over the years. Since forming, they have performed all over the world, including playing at many festival events such as Download Festival and also even achieving places in the Official UK Album charts.
Cambridge was just one stop on the band’s 2018/2019 ‘Stop The Clocks’ tour, which has proven to be their longest UK tour to date! The tour also sees the promotion of their latest studio album ‘The Spark’. Available for purchase now. In Decmber of 2018 Enter Shikari were joined by supporting act Milk Teeth, however during their January and February dates they have been joined by Canadian rock band Palaye Royale. For their Cambridge show, a second support act was also introduced, Brighton based band, Black Peaks.
So lets discuss the actual event on the night. As previously mentioned, I was enthusiastic about returning to Cambridge Junction. Upon arrival on a freezing cold evening, I stood with another writer and a photographer (working for another source) in a pretty long queue outside the venue (Junction 1) waiting for doors to open at 7pm. All was well and good, that was until we ended up in the firing line of some fragrant wine infused vomit from a rather intoxicated ES fan standing behind us. Thankfully, we were not showered upon and the doors opened shortly afterwards. I don’t think I could moved any quicker to get in the venue. J1 is a pretty great venue, it’s a decent size without it being overwhemlingly big, there were merch stands, cloakrooms, and two bars – the usual facilities you’d expect to find in a live event venue. I was quite happy to keep my jacket on as it was unusually cold within Junction 1. I don’t know where breeze was coming from, but I’m sure I was close to having icicles hanging from my nose by the end of the evening. I know we were expecting freezing cold temperatures over the week, but I didn’t think we were to expect it while inside.
It wasn’t too long before we saw the first of the night’s acts take to the stage. At 7:20pm the members of Black Peaks graced us with their presence. They entered the stage under four simple white spotlights pointing down at the floor of the stage as pre recorded music played to ramp up some excitement.
The four piece rock band formed back in 2012, originally under the name ‘Shrine‘. Their debut album was actually recieved pretty well which even brought them to the attention of well known DJs Dan P Carter and Zane Lowe on BBC Radio 1.
Their music is what only can be described as loud, roaring rock, with almost grizzly bear like tendancies from the band’s vocalist and front man Will Gardner. Don’t take that as a negative comment because boy, could he hit some impressive notes! However I kind of found myself losing my focus while writing my notes for this review, as I just couldn’t stop staring at his facial hair. That is one well groomed moustache! While performing, it was rare that we saw the band take a break. By this I mean that they literally played from one song into the next without a pause inbetween or to introduce each song by title.
They opened with ‘Glass Built Castles‘ and by the time they had began their third song of their set (‘Can’t Sleep‘), there appeared to be a two person mini mosh pit in front of the stage, which was actually quite amusing to watch. There didn’t seem to be much of an energetic vibe in the room while Black Peaks were performing on stage, vocalist Will was sometimes seen balancing one foot on the speaker in front of him and occasionally leaning into the crowd to hit those husky and thundering notes, but that was kind of all that was on offer to see. I haven’t seen the band perform live before so they may not be one of those acts that perform live shows with endless amounts of energy, especially when they have to focus on their performance. Either this or perhaps they may have been having an off day? At the end of the day we are all human and we all experience days like that.
As already mentioned, the second support act of the evening was Toronto formed Palaye Royale. Formerly known as Kropp Circle (goodness, these bands can’t seem to make up their minds on their names can they?). The three Kropp brothers originally formed their act in 2008. After their name change, they released their official debut single ‘Morning Light’ in 2012. Around a year later they released their first EP. They say that their musical style is fashion-art rock, although their music has also been labelled as glam rock and indie rock. Their musical influences are said to be that of David Bowie, The Doors, and The Rolling Stones, they are currently based in Las Vegas, USA.
Just like when Black Peaks entered the stage, Palaye Royale also entered the room under four white spotlights as music played to see them walk in one by one. Now this is a band that has energy, from the moment they picked up their instruments and equipment they covered all areas of the stage. At one point during their performance, I genuinely thought that guitarist Sebastian Danzig was going to knock himself out cold with his own instrument- which also actually malfunctioned fairly early on into their set. Although it went realtively unoticed as the act continued to play on and continue with their seven song setlist. True professionalism lads!
Every band member knew how to utilise their space well, but it was front man Remington Leith that drew all eyes in as he was often seen standing on equipment, playing up to cameras from the various press teams and even launched himself into the crowd as he belted out some of the band’s tracks.
It was also clear who the band’s musical influences are just with their fashion choices alone, with a modern twist on 80s glam rock attire. Palaye Royale seem to have quite a large fanbase and they were recieved well in Cambridge. I remember one lad standing in front of me talking to his friend about the act on stage. I know I shouldn’t have been eavesdropping, but it is my role as a live music reviewer to observe and report. He commented saying “they are very, very different, but I like it.” The expression on his face while he made this comment was actually priceless, he looked like an over excited child who had the biggest and widest eyes as they watch a snowfall for the first time. Actually quite an apt reference for me to use when writing about an event that took place on a freezing cold evening.
We got to hear some amazing tracks from the brothers, including: ‘Don’t Feel Quite Right‘, ‘Wasted’, as well as the infectious ‘F***ing With My Head’. Although, quite surprisingly Palaye Royale‘s latest single (‘Dying In A Hot Tub’) was missing from their setlist. How strange.
After some great supporting acts to warm up the crowd (unforatunately not literally) there was definitely an amazing buzz within the atmosphere that filled the venue. We were all well and truely ready to see the event’s main act to take centre stage. Light screens, instruments, and even an intriguing looking sound system was placed in the centre of the stage which I can only describe as the lovechild of a radar screen and a vintage television set which we later found out would be mastered by ES‘s front man Rou Reynolds.
All music that was played into the venue was silenced and vivid blue lighting that filled the room suddenly faded to a gentle teal glow, while smoke machines were turned on to fill the room with a gentle fog. Then a huge roar of excitement came from all ticket holders, even chanting and melodious clapping. Drum roll please……
Enter, Enter Shikari (yes I did write that on purpose). The bonkers set got off to an expected energetic start as we heard the short intro ‘Spark‘ before they went straight into play their single ‘The Sights’ (both taken from their latest album ‘The Spark’, which has more of an electro/futuristic sound).
Early into their show Vocalist and front man of the band Rou, took a quick pause to engage with us all with an amusing and somewhat nerdy greeting “Greetings, Carbon-based lifeforms! We are Enter Shikari“. There also seemed to be somewhat of a dress code for the artists that evening (clearly I didn’t get the memo as I stood there in plain black clothing), they appeared the favour the dark coloured checkered trousers, Rou was no exception to this as he wore just that as well as a crisp white hooded top with the hood up (which eventually came off later on in the evening).
Later into their array of songs, the members of the band were ready to ramp up the energy of the entire room even more so. Little did we know just how much. Rou suddenly stopped to shout “OK, Cambridge, it’s time to go back! Way back!“. Seconds later cannons at either sides of the stage boomed, filling the air with bright blue confetti. This is when it started to get wild, it turned into the ultimate ravers paradise. Insane strobe lighting soon followed as the confetti fell to the floor and crowd surfers carelessly made their way around the room. It was certainly a sight to see in a venue of it’s size.
It was clear to see that Enter Shikari had an amazing connection with their fans, they just love to entertain and amaze. Reynolds even took time to explain to the fans just exactly what it can be like when touring and that he had recently not been himself so he had decided not to do his usual warm up vocal practise before the evening’s show. It clearly made no impact on him or anyone else there that evening. Throughout the night he was often seen performing while holding his mic in one hand and a wine glass in other. He even went on to say “I’m actually feeling better for it, plus Gin always helps”.
Around half way through their setlist, the energy was calmed as Rou stood at the mic stand to play the trumpet which indicated the intro to their track ‘Shinrin-yoku‘. This had immediately induced a sea of slowly swaying hands and also some rather trippy dance moves too. Throughout the song the room was filled with the lyrics “my lungs fill with air!“.
But of course it wasn’t too long before the tempo was kicked up a notch or two once again and cannons also let off confetti for the second time – this time releasing white confetti. This also prompted a couple of snow ball style confetti fights. It was epic!
Throughout the evening we got to witness Enter Shikari perform an incredible and varied setlist, they clearly tried to push themselves to fit in as many songs as possible in their allotted time slot. I believe there were around 25 songs. The setlist incuded the tracks ‘Sorry You’re Not A Winner‘, a stripped back version of ‘No Sleep‘, ‘Mothership‘ and ‘Rabble Rouser‘.
There is no doubt that Enter Shikari perform like no other live act and they certainly stand out with their amazing on stage antics, a fantastic rappor with their fans and widely varied styles of music. Is there anything that these people can’t do? Seeing them perform live was definitely a memorable moment for me and I’m sure that my teenage self will be very proud to know that she does get to see them perform live.
Enter Shikari aren’t finished touring the UK just yet, if you would like to see them perform live they do have a couple of shows left of this current tour before then heading to Europe. They will be playing at Download, Reading and Leeds festivals this summer. For more information check out the shows section of their website at www.entershikari.com
Words by Kim Simmons
Photographs by Kane Howie – http://www.kanehowiephotography.co.uk/