I don’t think I’ve ever put a gig into here so here goes:
I’ve followed Enter Shikari for “quite some time” but I don’t think I’m the “joker in the pack”. True. I did raise the average age at the Coventry Kasbah nightclub last night, arriving just 7mins before they were due in stage.
This slight tardiness was a direct result of a supreme piece of irony. I had another place to be on Sunday evening: church. I am part of a group who run the sound desk for the worship group and speakers. It was my turn this week and I was slightly concerned I might not make it in time for the gig.
My worship group this week had 2 vocalists, a lead and bass guitar, an amplified acoustic guitar, keyboard, drums, sax and flute. they like it loud in the evening which means we can afford to beast the amplifiers in a way that the morning congregation would find distasteful. I began to wonder if I was controlling more inputs than the sound desk at the gig later!
In the end I was early. You can call this planning or divine providence and I don’t really mind which, but I was thankful. True enough, I missed the support acts but I’ve listened to enough of those to be well aware they are a curates egg (slipping a religious reference again I note!). Yes; I ended up at the back near the sound desk but as this is where the sound is mixed its always the best place to catch the best of the band. I’ve done my time at the front at past gigs and loved it but my back has been a bit sore this week and I’m not sure it would have appreciated being in such close proximity to a seething mass of bodies. As it was I occupied a slightly elevated spot as there are some steps at the rear of the venue and this afforded a great view. I also had a position where I had a low pillar in front of me and I could lean against this and have a little precious “space” in front of me. From here I had a great view if the crowd and the stage. I saw mosh pits develop and collapse, crowd surfing and members of the band climbing along the balcony edges and diving onto the crowd.
The relentless energy of the band is tangible and without compare. They appear to give everything, everytime. This is the fourth time I’ve seen them and the smallest venue. The lighting was nothing to write home about but this was all about “intimacy” and the music. The band came out into the crowd and onto their shoulders. However…, I’m still smarting from the time in Wolverhampton where Rory C decided to stage dive. On my head. Oof! I never saw it coming….
The set list is well documented elsewhere – just google “enter shikari setlist 2013” and up it comes. Now. This is where it slightly falls apart for me. There’s no spontaneity any more, everything is so tightly controlled that the list is rigid and may not be deviated from. I kind of long for the days when it was all a bit more “unpolished”. I know that audiences want to hear it as close to the recorded sound as possible, but I’m not sure this is as honest as it could be.
There was a good mix of tracks, and their catalogue has got larger so there is quite a lot to choose from. The stuff from AFFOC was fuel for the crowd but there was still a lot of love for zzonked, havoc,etc. I have to confess a deep admiration for the motherstep/mothership piece and really delight in the soaring electronics that have joined the raucous vocals to update this classic from earlier years.
“All eyes on the saint” is one of the newer tracks and I like the structure and the fact that it unashamedly harks back to the musical style of “take to the skies”. A bit of digging reveals a lyric decryption and it would appear that it is a protest song against St Albans town council! Could this be a first? Have the local papers picked up on this? Is this the reason they did not play the Alban Arena (don’t want to give money to the council)? In any case it’s a lively piece and fitting for their canon.
I also detected another piece of supremely serendipitous juxtaposition with “unite”. This electronic “filler” track with a preface by Rou which provided me with an uncanny resonance to the fact that I had attended a church service that evening and that the message of the church should really parallel the words from Rou. In fact, its brevity is exemplary and many ministers would do well to take a lesson in delivering a big message in a tight package:
“Ive come to a conclusion on this planets health. Its absurd cos the the dominant species is at war with itself. They think they’re civilised, intelligent, evolved; yet they murder each other for land, oil and gold but yes! There is love; and it could, it could conquer overnight if only we could realise we must simply unite.”
In a way this provides some structure to answer the questions posed by the social comments raised in AFFOC and “Common Dreads”.
In the end, I left feeling that I had been entertained, educated, challenged and stimulated. Could one wish for more?
Oh… And for the interested…. This was taken from a morning service so things are reigned in a touch…