Chaos and Connection: Enter Shikari in Manchester

Emerging from the success of their chart-topping UK album A Kiss For The Whole World, ENTER SHIKARI returned to Manchester on their highly anticipated arena tour. Hailing from St. Albans, the 4-piece are renowned for their genre-bending approach. Throughout their career, spanning over two decades, ENTER SHIKARI have boldly navigated through various genres, transcending their post-hardcore origins to craft a distinctive sound that seamlessly merges electronic, rock, and pop influences. Their refusal to conform has not only set them apart but has also established them as pioneers in the alternative music scene, garnering a fiercely loyal fanbase. On Wednesday night in Manchester, with support from NOAHFINNCE and FEVER 333, they kicked off the first of two unforgettable performances at Victoria Warehouse in Manchester showcasing why they’re known as one of the UK’s most versatile acts. 

Stepping onto the stage amidst a wave of warm applause from the eager crowd, NOAHFINNCE, a vibrant singer-songwriter celebrated for both his musical talent and his influential presence as a widely respected trans content creator, appeared alongside his band. Having already shared a stage with ENTER SHIKARI on one of their previous tours, these guys couldn’t have been more stoked to grace us with their presence. Their set kicked off with GROWING UP ON THE INTERNET, a pop-punk anthem brimming with infectious energy and irresistible hooks. From there, the British ensemble seamlessly transitioned through songs such as 3 DAY HEADACHE, Lovely Ladies and my personal favourite I KNOW BETTER. During their short but sweet set, they boldly weaved a snippet of the Harry Potter theme song– a subtle yet pointed nod towards JK Rowling’s controversial anti-trans viewpoints– before diving into their song Scumbag, a spirited track addressing the injustices faced by the trans community. Although their musical style diverged slightly from the rest of tonight’s lineup, the energy and enthusiasm they brought to their set was infectious. A powerful and punchy start to the evening.

Hailing from California, the four-piece juggernaut FEVER 333 took the stage as the second and final opening act of the night, greeted by an audience that was clearly well-versed in their music. With no hesitation, they ignited the crowd’s enthusiasm, launching straight into the powerful BURN IT, a track that has earned them a coveted Kerrang! Award. Frontman Jason Aalon-Butler, renowned for his work with LETLIVE, emerged as an absolute force of nature from the moment the band stepped onto the Manchester stage, his infectious energy spreading like wildfire. As a newcomer to their live performance, I was forewarned by a fellow photographer to use my fastest shutter speed (I definitely needed it), a testament to the sheer intensity and movement they brought to the stage. Making their way through their short but powerful setlist, a standout moment for me came as Butler stacked two monitors atop each other, climbing to the summit while belting out “No you can’t keep us,” the chorus of their closing anthem, Hunting Season, before fearlessly leaping off. Beyond the musical spectacle, FEVER 333 seized the opportunity to address political issues, advocating for Palestine, people of colour and women, infusing their performance with poignant and socially charged messages. The intensity and command they exuded on stage were so compelling that anyone could have easily mistaken them for the headline act. Their seamless blend of activism and artistry made them a perfect opener for ENTER SHIKARI’s headline set.

The night, for all its fantastic support acts, truly belongs to ENTER SHIKARI. This quartet (who have supposedly played Victoria Warehouse more times than any other band in the past 10 years), require no introduction, especially when it comes to their electrifying live performances. Having won multiple live performance awards, they consistently elevate their artistry with each tour. Wednesday’s performance began with vocalist Rou Reynolds making a striking solo entrance onto the stage. Bathed in a solitary spotlight, he delivered a mesmerising spoken word rendition of System … Meltdown. As he stood alone, engulfed by the enthusiastic crowd, it became unmistakably clear just how deeply ingrained ENTER SHIKARI and their music are within their fans’ hearts. Their impact extends beyond the stage and their magnetic presence has only grown more profound with time. Their importance in the music scene is undeniable.

From that moment onwards, the stage erupted into an unstoppable whirlwind of energy and the crowd was pure chaos. The band members themselves became dynamic forces of motion, constantly engaging with the crowd and feeding off the energy of their fans. The setlist, boasting 26 songs, is jam-packed with fan favourites from start to finish, neglecting no corners of the band’s long career. Playing hits from their first album Take To The Skies such as Mothership and Enter Shikari as well as bangers from their newer albums like Jailbreak and It Hurts and everything else in between. Their older material gained the loudest cheers with their longest-serving fans making themselves heard. Vocalist Rou Reynolds showcased his extraordinary vocal range, notably on the timeless classic Gap In The Fence while also surprising fans with a captivating acoustic, slowed down and solo rendition of the newer track T.I.N.A. They showcased the debut of several new tracks, including Giant Pacific Octopus and Losing My Grip, which features Jason Aalon Butler, frontman of FEVER 333, who naturally graced the stage to join them in this electrifying moment.

Maintaining relevance in an industry constantly flooded with fresh talent can be a daunting task, yet even after two decades, ENTER SHIKARI remains as formidable as ever. Throughout this time, they’ve relentlessly honed their craft, consistently delivering some of the most thrilling and distinctive music in the industry. Their dedication shines through in every aspect of their performance, as they infuse each song with boundless energy and passion. It’s no wonder they receive such adoration—they truly deserve every ounce of love and recognition they receive. Treating the audience to an encore that seamlessly bridged their past with the present, ENTER SHIKARI launched into Sorry You’re Not A Winner, a beloved classic, and concluded with A Kiss For The Whole World x, showcasing their evolution and enduring creativity. As someone who has been fortunate enough to attend multiple ENTER SHIKARI shows and has witnessed their growth firsthand, it’s evident that they consistently raise the bar with every album and every tour. I can’t wait to see what magic they make next.

Photos and Words by Ellie Dawson


Philip Goddard

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