Enter Shikari played the Usher Hall, Edinburgh 13.12.2021 to a sell-out crowd.
Enter Shikari returned to Scotland after their recent visit where they played in Glasgow during COP26. The band are passionate and, on a mission, to educate and inspire but on your own terms. Like life itself, there’s politics embedded in their lyrics but it’s just as important that you enjoy the immersive experience their live shows bring. The tour finally got underway after a long delay and having already done 7 dates prior to Edinburgh, the band were up to speed. Luckily, Chris Batten (Bass) had seen out his isolation due to testing +ve for Covid and the band were once again complete.
Bassist Georgia South and singer/guitarist Amy Love are Nova Twins. Their blistering, incendiary style of music has given them a platform to speak their minds and they do this unashamedly. The deadly duo’s set contained songs from their album “Who are the girls” and if you didn’t know them before the gig, it would be an eye-opener. Having already done some major live dates around the country, they are used to blowing away their audiences both visually and aurally. The opening song “Devils Face” set the bar high and they maintained the ferocity and intensity with every song. When the bass kicked in on “Play Fair”, the entire building shook with the overdriven distorted bass frequencies. They hit so hard, it felt like you’d been hit by a Juggernaut.
The songs are carefully structured to give you a few moments of relief between the onslaught of the pounding drums and bass. Amy’s voice hypnotically embeds in your head and the slick delivery matches the heavy rhythms. Considering their live sound is derived purely from their instruments, with no samples or synthesisers is impressive. Not conforming to any specific genre, they have cleverly crafted a sound that is as addictive as it is unique. Probably best heard live so you can feel the music physically not just emotively. The new single “Antagonist” supplemented the album material and confirmed the girls are here to stay and continue to produce hard-hitting anthems.
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The was a time that going to a “grunge” gig would’ve meant a severe aural bashing from the crushing bass and heavy drumming. Dinosaur Pile-Up were almost light relief after Nova Twins. That’s no dis-service to Dinosaur Pile Up, they are from a different era and appeal to a whole different audience. Like the previous band, they are also a three-piece but more traditional in that their sound is recognisable as guitar-based. Their sound is still crushingly heavy at times but interspersed with light dry guitar breaks to bring a dynamic well used in heavy alternative rock. The band put together a well-crafted set and certainly didn’t come across as limited as regular drummer Mike was, unfortunately, sidelined with Covid. Thankfully, a call to Blake, who was in Belgium at the time, resulted in him jumping on a flight within an hour of the call and successfully learning the set. You’d never of known he wasn’t their go-to guy as he literally smashed it to the point of nearly wrecking his snare during the second song!
The band ramped up their set throughout, beginning with “Arizona Waiting”, the opening track from their 2013 album “Nature Nurture”. The band drew heavily from their last album with “Celebrity Mansions” up next followed by “Round the Bend” reflective of where the band have evolved from their early material. “Thrash Metal Cassette” is a belter of a track and reminded me of “White Limo” by the Foo Fighters. The band saved the best till last with “Back Foot”. Dinosaur Pile Up were not the most obvious support slot for Enter Shakiri, but defiantly a worthy inclusion to the entire night’s entertainment.
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There was a robotic voice that came over the PA to provide updates when Enter Shikari would be on stage… 20mins, 10mins, 2 mins…. 1min… Very cleverly building the anticipation yet reassuring the crowd their favourites would be there soon. It did serve to build the hype and when the countdown materialised, the lights dimmed, and the intro music had the audience screaming. First song, “The Great Unknown” Rou Reynolds sings “Is this a new beginning, or are we close to the end?” very apt considering the times were live in right now. As the confetti was blasted into the air above the audience, it could’ve been a party for the end of the universe. The crowd were oblivious to the world outside because for the next 100mins, they just wanted to let go. Up next, the thought provoking “Destabilise” is a mantra to shake up the establishment. The set consisted of songs from the bands entire back catalogue and the PA has probably never been tested so thoroughly as the meticulous sound produced by the four musicians was at earth-shaking volumes.
The sub frequencies in “Sssnakepit” were further proof the band have some real venom in their music at times, and “Juggernaut” offered no let up as the BPM went ballistic. The latest album “Nothing is true, and everything is possible” was showcased brilliantly with “modern living”. Rou has coined the word “apocoholics” and it resonates throughout society. One of the highlights of the night was the highly critical “Anaesthetist”, the full rage against the medical machine was evident. “Satellites” and “The pressure’s on” almost had a pop feel in comparison with the earlier songs played as the new album continued to be shared live with the audience. The vitriol in “Ghandi Mate, Ghandi” resonated in the crowd as the circle pit had the participants mouth the words to each other as they punched the air with purpose before they continued the carnage. The main set ended with “Solidarity” and was a perfect description of how the crowd had come together to celebrate in unison.
After a few minutes of respite, Rou returned to the stage and performed an emotive version of “Constellations” supported by the attentive on-lookers at the chorus. “Dreamers Hotel” was the perfect penultimate banging tune as it draws on all the essential elements of Enter Shikari. 2017’s album “The Spark” provided the last song of the evening as it provided a prophetic vision of how many must be feeling in 2021. “Live Outside” gave the sold out crowd the chance to savour what might be their last gig as another lockdown looms.
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