“This is a hobby that’s gotten out of hand”
…Shouts a bewildered Rou Reynolds to a frenzied crowd of 10,000 people. The genre bending DIY band from St Albans have defied all laws of music to be here tonight; starting out through their own record label and never selling out to mass consumerism, their sound is still as raw and untainted as the day they debuted Sorry You’re Not A Winner back in 2003. Except now they have a lot more lights, and a white parka.
“This shouldn’t be happening” he acknowledges, but is he right? In terms of genre limitations, this definitely should not be happening. But in terms of seventeen years of dedication and thousands of back to back shows, it’s almost an inevitability. They get every last thing right, from opening with fan favourite Solidarity and provoking the chanting of “and still we will be here, standing like statues”, to covering Robbie Williams’ Angels. Yep, you heard me.
The production is phenomenal, with quadraphonic sound enhancing every bassline and every politically motivated scream to its full potential. But even when Rou takes to the sound desk under a seemingly unwritten arena rule, to perform Dear Future Historians… and a stripped back Juggernauts stood on a piano, the room is still very much under his command. The unity this band creates is quite incredible, and you can feel it through the whole hall during the refrain of “just put your weight on my shoulders”.
The boys return to the stage for the final run, blasting out a mind blowing mashup of Arguing With Thermometers and Ghandi Mate, Ghandi. By this point I don’t think there’s anybody in the front half of the crowd who hasn’t either been pinned to the floor, lost a shoe, or attempted to climb a human pyramid in the middle of a mosh pit. The crowd only gets more and more intense as they draw to a close, chanting Shi-ka-ri repeatedly until they return triumphantly for an encore of the anthemic Redshift and Anaesthetist. You would be hard pressed to find a song better suited to fill the cavernous hall of Ally Pally than Anaesthetist, and with its performance Shikari set the bar for every artist to play there in the future.
Tonight has been more than the sum of its parts, an experience rather than just a performance. “We’re going to take you on a journey tonight” promised Rou at the start of the evening, and somehow they exceeded every expectation set. In fact, they completely smashed it to the point that I would say they’re a band set to revolutionize the live show all over again.
Listen to Anaesthetist below:
Photo Creds @StevenHaddock