Enter Shikari: The Cockpit, Leeds

An album launch party is a big deal for any artist, but for an unsigned band who just so happen to be celebrating a midweek number one album with their self released album, A Flash Flood Of Colour, even this is a bit special. There’s a huge queue outside over an hour before the doors open, which Enter Shikari must be getting used to, having amassed an army of devoted followers over the last 8 years.

The buzz around tonight’s gig is palpable amid a flurry of internet rumours. Are they playing in the tiny room that holds one hundred people? Are they playing for three hours? Is there a support band? Unfortunately only one of these rumours turned out to be true, as eventually the support band for the night were revealed to be Liverpool’s own Fine Young Firecrackers. Who turn out to be absolutely awful. I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with something good to say about them and I have this. Their guitars were shiny and every once in a while the light would bounce off of them, temporarily preventing me from seeing them drag themselves around the stage. Tired hardcore riffs throughout five identical bounce-along songs were all the band had to offer before some audience participation and I can’t for the life of me remember what the words were because most of them weren’t audible. Shame.

Shikari had a lot of slack to take up after the decidedly average opening to the night and, of course, they did it with aplomb. Kicking off with the two opening tracks from their new album ‘A Flash Flood Of Colour’ and then diving into the bizarrely named ‘Ghandi Mate, Ghandi’ it’s clear they mean business. Either the entire crowd has spent their money on the new album or there are a lot of illegal downloaders in attendance because every word is positively screamed back at the band, who for their part seem genuinely taken aback by such a passionate response to their new material.

Anybody who has ever been to the wonderful Cockpit will know there are no security barriers between crowd and stage and when Shikari dive into eternal fan favourite ’Sorry, You’re Not A Winner’ all hell breaks loose as the road crew and staff frantically throw punters off the stage and back into the crowd. This goes on throughout the rest of the set and it would derail any lesser bands. These boys from St. Alban’s are made of far sterner stuff though and don’t even break stride before unleashing ’Destabilise’ which was essentially a teaser for the new album. Driven along by pulsating dub-step and laced with Rou Reynolds defiantly spitting lyrics, it’s a massive track and has people literally climbing the walls. Reynolds doesn’t exactly help the venue’s staff when he tells the crowd ’This place is your fucking playground!’ but it makes for an amazing show. They’re on top form and even take a few minutes to acknowledge their midweek number one spot before treating us all to a remix of ‘Common Dreads’ highlight ‘Juggernauts’. The band exit the stage briefly chants of ‘Shikari! Shikari’ and it’s not long before they come back to close with new tracks ‘Hello Tyrannosaurus, Meet Tryannicide’ and stand-out track from their new album, ‘Sssnakepit’.

Almost every review of the new album has picked up on the fact that the fresh lyrics, whilst angry and rebellious are ‘dumbed down’ and not eloquent enough. Considering the fact that Shikari’s main rival for the top spot was someone who rhymes ‘Face seems’ with ‘pastries’, I’m more than glad to have been in attendance at the album launch of an unsigned, revolutionary band like Enter Shikari. Tonight was a massive celebration and no matter what massive venues they fill whilst touring their latest album, Shikari will be hard pressed to find a crowd as enthusiastic and frenzied as this one.