Review & Photography by Manny Manson for MPM
So, it’s a miserably cold day once again, the drizzle just starting as I, again, point my car in the direction of Wolverhampton.
Having been there that many times over the last 18months, I set the alarm on my watch to wake me in 90minutes time, I settle back and leave the driving to Google maps and BMW cruise control. I awake sometime later to find I’m still sat on my drive, bugger, I didn’t think that one through properly.
Wolverhampton is equally as overcast and the skies full of ‘mizzle’ as I park up and go get a Costa to help while away the time. I’m early, so I have a decent choice of parking as I relax and watch Maverick on the in-car entertainment. The doors are 7pm, so with over an hour to go fans are already passing by the car to get their place in the queue. Dedication as the late Roy Castle would say, as they stand in crocodile outside KK’s so they have their place on the barrier. I’ll join the queue at 6:55pm. I don’t want my hair to frizz in the drizzle while I’m waiting.
Tonight, is round 2 of the 3 mini tours Enter Shikari have embarked on. These are 5 dates in each of February, March and April in London, Manchester, Glasgow, Bristol and tonight in Wolverhampton. Tickets are already sold out for the remaining nights of the last two dates on this run and the final 5 nights in April.
Opening proceedings tonight, we have the enigmatic Cody Frost and her band. Those of us who partake in regular Saturday night talent shows, will already know that Cody was a finalist on The Voice UK in series 5, back in 2016, as part of Team George, ironically back then she cited Rou Reynolds and Enter Shikari as a major influences, and now she gets to tour with them.
Kicking the night of with ‘Verbal Warnings’, Cody is on the mic pulling the shapes as the drums and guitar crash around her, the repetitive ‘Down, Down, Down’ has the crowd singing along as the lights pick her slight form out. ‘Wot?’ follows on with the punky edge theme. ‘DWYSSWM(Don’t Worry Your Secrets Safe with Me)’ from Cody’s 2022 album ‘Teeth’ a dramatic piece about a failed relationship, flows effortlessly into ‘No Admission with its electronic beats and slick drum fills.
Cody’s almost spoken lyrical style is pure, in today’s world of screams and growls thrown into distorted beats, and as such is refreshing. ‘BERLIN’ another from 2022’s ‘Teeth’ continues the theme.
The crowd into night, its already filling up nicely, are enjoying this opening set, never an easy slot to fill for anyone. The venue is filled with deep bass and distorted guitar as the set powers on, the vocal is determined and full of a controlled angst as it stops and starts, ebbs and flows into ‘Teeth’, the title track of the ‘mixtape’ released in 2022.
The drums are steady as the vocal is lament full, the vocal riffs drive the song along to the regular kick drumbeat. Flickering lights highlight her black saw tooth under eye make-up, ideally suited to the almost Keith Flint styled hair-cut. The set concludes with’ Redundant’. Fast, and delivered with an almost monotoned lyric, hits the crowd as they wave their arms to the beat.
This has a more commercial pop feel to it but still retains the controlled aggression of the previous bangers. Cody tells us that she will be at the merch desk and encourages everyone to come along and say hi. A great opening set from a future star no doubt.
Whilst the crew sort the stage for band two tonight, As Everything Unfolds, I take a moment to have a walk round the venue. The crowd in tonight range from the school going Gen-X’ers to 60’s babes and retiree’s, ok I’m guessing there’s a few pensioners in, I’m 58 and there are several who look like they had a big paper round and have a few years on me.
With minutes to go we get let into the pit, just intime to snap a copy of the set list before the lights dim and we’re off, much to the delight of those in tonight. ‘Ultraviolet’ gets things going. Dropped tunings and a thundering bass drum crash, a bit of old school record ‘scratching’ scrapes out before we get hit by the lyrics, gentle at first as the song builds before the inner demon is released from Charlie Rolfe. The Synth loops in the back ground as the song roars on. Flying drums kick off ‘Hiding from Myself, and Charlie is straight on it, the demon with in letting itself be heard from early on in this faster paced number from this five-piece progressive, post hardcore metal band who who formed in 2013.
More programmed sounds introduce ‘Flip Side’. A walking drum beat, albeit a fast one crashes out as the guitars are deep n brutal, full of fuzz and distortion. As with each breakdown we get the demonic screams from Charlie, this vocal style has been previously likened to Amy Lee of Evanescence, and Becca Macintyre from the Marmozets.
A new song follows in the form of ‘Slow Down’ a brand-new track being released next week, this is a drop from the forthcoming new album Ultraviolet. Charlie is pacing for this one, the spots highlighting her hair as she dances around. This has a solid brick wall feel to it, thundering and immersive during its breakdown, the crowd joining with the hand claps as the song is brought down.
To follow this up we stay with the new album and ‘Blossom’, but not before Charlie thanks Enter Shikari for having them on the tour. Once again, the drums kick out hard before the vocals take front stage, the synth swells around as the drums slam in again. The guitars are in the mix somewhere but the drums are the powerhouse propelling the tune along. The synth drone continues as the breakdown has an angry scream launching across the venue.
With just 2 songs left to play the band waste no time in playing ‘Felt Like Home’. Again, from the new album, starting off with a programmed sequence that is sandwiched between drums and a deep bass. The big orchestral sound presents with the dignity of an 80’s rave before slowing down for the vocals to catch up. The crowd are bouncing, there are some amongst them who have done their homework and are singing along to this one.
‘On The Inside’ finishes the night off. This is a banger to finish off any set. This is one from the debut album ‘Within Each Lies the Other’. Distorted screams flying around dropped tuned fuzzed guitars. The crowd are clearly enjoying the multiple layers of this song, as Charlie gives us a screaming demon moment which sends shivers down your spine. She has kept on the go all set, certainly getting her steps in. With brief moments spent in front of the mic or with her arms flailing around she brings the song to a climax.
The crowd erupt in appreciation, haven given their thanks, the band are now clearing the stage in readiness for the headliners.
Formed in 1999, in Hertfordshire, Enter Shikari, tagged amongst other things, as an ‘Electronicore’ band have grown in stature from the get go. With six albums already released and a seventh imminent, the band haven’t sat on the laurels. This year they have taken a residency in five venues for three months to promote the new album ‘ A Kiss for the Whole World’, scheduled for release on April 21st.
Starting the set of with a display of lights that will put bigger bands to shame, the band come on and get down to it with ‘It Hurts’ this is from the new album but already has become a firm favourite with the fans. Slamming beats and dancing lights have the crowd on their toes straight away as they sing along. Rou Reynolds is dressed in a bright Fred Perry windcheater as he throws shapes while getting the vocal work done.
The stage is shrouded in smoke, great for the lights to play against but a bugger to photograph. Vertical strip lights chase each other across the stage and under the drum riser, spots launch light into the venue as star bursts twist and turn. The song finishes and the crowd start a football chant “OOOOH Enter Shikari !”
With a 1-2-3-4 count, the blast beats of ‘Juggernaut’ crack out. The crowd are again on form singing along. As the kick drum crushes, bass player and founding member Chris Batten is patrolling the stage behind Rou. Rory Clewlow on guitar is riffing hard in his white denim jacket, his stage right is a wash with white star lights as he watches the crowd sing along.
“Are you ready for round 2, any one here for round 1, we need to up the energy “.
The lights are amazing, adding another dimension to each song as we drift into ‘The Dreamers Hotel’ this is a thuggish number hitting hard like an old stranglers hit, bass heavy it rips you open. The crowd are carrying on as singer, Rou, climbs upon the speaker cab on stage right, and happily sits there singing along, before jumping down and racing around the stage. The brief interlude ‘Halcyon’ plays until ‘Hectic’ picks up the beats and motors straight on. The lights are flashing around the venue as the floor is bouncing to the crowd’s energy. “beautiful” shouts Rou as the crowd sing along.
My son has been messaging me about the band, he’s been telling me about them for a while now, sadly he couldn’t make tonight’s show. So far, he’s been on the money, what a great band. The football chant starts again as the stage has gone dark, the music starts back with an almost digeridoo drone, ‘The Void Stares Back’ cracks out, I walk around to the other side of the venue to see that Rou is hanging from an upright in front of the sound board. The band are giving it large on the stage while he sings in and amongst the crowd, He finishes by saying it’s going to be a long walk back if he’s got to take selfies with everyone.
Back on the stage we get three furious tunes starting with ‘Satellites’ another one that the crowd sing along too, this is followed by ‘ The Pressures On’ complete with bird song, electronic programmed sound effects being controlled by bass player Chris Batten. The crowd start hand clapping, this is interrupted by an electronic voice before it goes into the fast repetitive break down of the final song in this triplet, ‘Bloodshot’ from ‘A Kiss for the Whole World’. The lights are flashing fast, a ceiling of lasers pierce the darkness dancing around above the fan’s heads. Topless lads are roaming about, drenched in sweat from their times in the ‘pit’.
Rou tells us “He’s thoroughly enjoying releasing a song then playing it live a few days later”
A round of Oggie Oggie Oggie Oi Oi Oi follows as they shout “shall we go old school”.
Nasty guitar and bass ricochets around the hall, as the slam beats of ‘Labyrinth’ hit you square on. Clapping starts up again in the crowd but quickly dies as the fans go nuts throwing shapes. Rou uses the interlude to don a guitar whilst Rob Rolfe is stood at the kit encouraging the crowd. The song strikes up as lights change and lasers pierce the darkness, the back ground is a wash with star burst white and blue lights. The old school beats have an almost Skindred quality about them, they’re that good. The crowd participation during ‘Radiate’ is palpable. The crowd start up another round of chants while they wait for the next song.
The screams and crowd singing continue as ‘(pls) set me on fire’ continues the set. The star burst lighting fills the venue yet again, they blaze out in red and yellow as Rou screams the intro to this one from ‘Rat Race’. It’s a pacey bass beat that bumps this one, as it does the lights glow like the heart of the sun.
The booming sound smashes the crowd as they get hit with another confetti cannon, and again the set goes quiet. Cody Frost is invited back on stage to help with ‘Bull’. This song is full of slamming beats and drones, as the stage lighting turns red with white star burst spots breaking the back ground, the crowd help out with the singing as this one ends with huge cheers.
The set finishes with ‘Sorry, You’re Not a Winner’ but not before Rou tells the crowd that the Wolverhampton crowd have been the best on both mini tours to date. Instrumental sounds crack out and the crowd clap along until its broken by the scowled vocal. The time signature changes as the song lollops along, a guitar riff rips it a new one as the venue is lit by pure white high, intensity lights, good job its indoors as Birmingham airport isn’t too far away. More green lasers cut through the smoke as the beats go through the roof, distorted slurs and strangled car horns build as Rou riffs over the top, finishing in a thank you and screams from the crowd. The stage is again in darkness.
This has started the crowd chanting “Oooh Enter Shikari” once more.
Rou appears stage centre, the strip lights are rainbow colours around him as he solo’s ‘Stop the Clocks’, another crowd favourite as they join in singing along with this one. ‘System’ is recited like a poem by Rou and the crowd acapella style, it then flows into ‘Meltdown’ and the rest of the band join in as this one crashes out, the electronic sections slams hard, as the kids around me ‘dad’ dance and throw various shapes, some, even in time to the beats. The night concludes with ‘Live Outside’. A frayed riff cries out as the song builds and bounces along.
The crowd are sending ripples across Wolverhampton as they bounce as one. The distorted programmed drones and beats thunder across the venue as the song builds in intensity. The faithful have stayed to the end as the growls fly about. And the song finishes and ends the night.
And what a night. Smoke, lights and lasers, guttural beats and frayed vocals have melded together and given a great night of Electronicore Metal.
The next round of shows start in April, if you can, get a ticket to a show, they’ve sold fast but there may be some available. If you like you beats hard hitting, presented by a competent frontman and backed up by musicianship that is next level, it’s a bucket list band to see live.
And now a steady drive home listening to the back catalogue on the car wireless.