On Tour with Enter Shikari: The Spark in Europe (+ Interview)
Throughout the past few years, Enter Shikari has developed into one of the best live acts in the rock scene. Starting out as a noisy post-hardcore act, the UK band has proven from record to record that the expression “genre-bending” must have been invented for them, and since the release of their fifth album The Spark in September, it is clear that Rob Rolfe, Rou Reynolds, Rory Clewlow and Chris Batten are ready to bring their music to the masses. Since touring the world seems like a good strategy to get there, Enter Shikari’s most recent tour “in celebration of The Spark” had them travel through the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, France, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Sweden and Italy with an extensive tour through North America following in January 2018.
Of course we had to cover this tour, but instead of reporting from one concert as usual, I decided to embark on my own little Enter Shikari adventure with stops in Amsterdam, Luxembourg and Cologne. It was quite interesting to see how much the shows differ from venue to venue, and I was really impressed how easy it seemed for the band and crew to adapt to the different conditions.
Another thing I noticed was how awesome the crowd was each night. One of the most important things this band has managed to build during their career is their amazing community, the “Shikari Family”. While the community is held together via the band’s social media, it’s during the tours when the strength of it becomes most palpable. Travel groups from Russia, fans hosting other fans from foreign cities, attendees traveling from Sweden or even New Zealand, spontaneous pre-show parties in hotel rooms, etc.: when you go to an Enter Shikari show, you will experience all that.
The Support Acts: Astroid Boys and Lower Than Atlantis supported Enter Shikari on their EU tour. While I experienced both bands as solid acts, the reception of the support slots was quite different from city to city. Amsterdam seemed to love Astroid Boys and the crowd danced their feet off to heir energetic “punk’n’grime”. Their setlist included bangers like “Dirt”, “Foreigners” and “Ghost”. Sadly the energy was lost when Lower Than Atlantis hit the stage. Their guitar-centric rock music played a solid set, but it seemed to drag on a bit in Amsterdam. This didn’t happen in Luxembourg or Cologne though, especially at the latter gig, where the audience got thoroughly warmed up by Lower Than Atlantis who played songs like “Had Enough”, “Dumb”, “Emily” and “Here We Go”. Unfortunately, the band had to pull out of the rest of tour due to illness.
Nov. 30th – Amsterdam – Paradiso
The first tour stop in Europe brought Enter Shikari to the always beautiful city of Amsterdam: home to all the European party people. The venue of choice was the Paradiso: a former church from the 19th century and an absolutely breathtaking location with high ceilings and two balcony rings. This one just had to be epic!
Since I had a few shows before me, I decided to experience the show in all its beauty without exhausting myself, and I’ve had already fallen in love with the balcony the moment I stepped foot into the venue. So up I went and it was the best decision ever. Since the concert was only a few days after Enter Shikari played for a 9,000 people strong audience at the legendary Alexandra Palace in London, I was quite curious how the show would translate to a smaller venue. The first change was unsurprising: there was no quadrophonic sound as it just didn’t fit into the venue. Still, Enter Shikari’s lighting and stage design made up for it. A big circular screen behind the drum set appeared with the first notes of the show’s intro “The Spark”. If you follow the band on all its social medias, you know that they spent quite some time programing the show and it was totally worth it! The visuals created a great atmosphere which supported the music and the emotions it evoked. A great play of the senses especially when you can take everything in from above!
The crowd in Amsterdam was absolutely mad! It was such an impressive sight to see the masses move with the music. Enter Shikari’s set was like a huge party. A lot of fans were a bit worried that the new poppier songs wouldn’t mix well with the older noisy songs, but as it turned out, the songs of The Spark went extremely well with the carefully chosen selections of the band’s catalogue. Suddenly a ten year old track like “Anything can happen in the next half hour” sounded like the newest shit cause it worked so well sandwiched between “Solidarity” and “Take My Country Back”.
Enter Shikari’s performance was as enthralling as ever. Reviewing these guys’ shows doesn’t get easier when there are only good things to say, but hey, that’s just how it is. Massive props to Rou Reynolds who was quite sick that day but powered through the set as if nothing was wrong. Technical issues occurred during “The Sights” but were charmingly commented by the band with some jokes while the crew solved the issue. Day saved.
“Solidarity”: Enter Shikari’s unofficial anthem feels so good when you have a nice view over the premises while 1,750 people pump their fists into the air to sing the magic words “And still we will be here…”. If you can’t finish that sentence, go see Enter Shikari on tour!
“Undercover Agents”: First of all, this is one of the best tracks on The Spark. It’s catchy, positive, fun, has a lot of variations but still feels harmonic. Also, I had my good friend and GID contributor Anouk dancing and wolf howling next to me, which is just the thing you have to do when hearing that song live.
Chris Batten changing up the notes of “Live Outside” so they sounded like the background music of an “Epic Fail”-meme. That was quite the comedic moment there.
Dec. 1st – Luxembourg – den Atelier
Two days after their grand gig in Amsterdam, Enter Shikari took it down a notch by playing the club den Atelier in Luxembourg. To be completely honest, I didn’t expect much from Luxembourg, but the city is absolutely stunning especially since it was quite cold and winter-ish there with cute little Christmas lights here and there. Well done, Lux, well done.
The den Atelier holds around 1,200 people and we immediately noticed that the show wasn’t sold out, cause there was quite some space to move about. We could take our time purchasing some merch (big up to the merch guy who emptied his own bag so I could stash my purchases in there after indulging a little too much), getting drinks and deciding on the perfect spot – on Rory’s side or on Chris’ side? We decided for Rory’s side cause this was also “Sparky’s” aka The Machine’s side which is the place to be, of course.
Obviously, the production was even more reduced here in comparison to the slightly bigger Paradiso, but this was not the show for a big production. We had space to move, the danciest setlist in Enter Shikari’s history and well-spirited people around us: the Luxembourg show almost turned into a rave. We ended up having so much fun there! It’s so fascinating to see how Enter Shikari can adapt their show to all these different requirements: no matter which venue size or what type of crowd they encounter, the show is different, but always great in its own way. Chris, Rou, Rob and Rory rocked from one song to the next, always making sure that the fast pace wasn’t weakening.
Reaching that pivotal moment in the setlist when the music stopped for Rob and Rou to make their way up to the balcony almost felt like a shock. There a piano and drum set were waiting for them to play the heartbreaking ballad “Airfield” from The Spark. The track transformed the giddy audience into a vulnerable mess. After being on the balcony for the show in Amsterdam, I realized how much of a difference it was to experience this performance while standing in the middle of a crowd, becoming one with your fellow music fans. It was quite beautiful. “Adieu” followed with the remix of the song serving as a perfect transition to the second dance-heavy part of the set with “Anaesthetist” and the infamous “Quickfire” section – a medley consisting of the songs “Sorry you’re not a winner”, “Sssnakepit”, “…Meltdown” and “Antwerpen”. I believe that this section was created especially for this incredible night in Luxembourg.
From “Arguing with Thermometers” to “Rabble Rouser”: I don’t know whose idea it was to perform these two songs in succession, but it must be one spicy bastard. Besides the “Quickfire”-section, this was probably the part of the set where the energy reached its peak. Well played!
“Adieu”-Remix: The “Routron 5000 Remix” of “Adieu” is the happiest piece of music, I’ve ever heard. It functions as a great pick up after everyone’s down because of “Airfield”.
Dec. 3rd – Cologne – Palladium
On Sunday, December 3rd, Enter Shikari was set to play the Palladium in Cologne, Germany – a very special show for the band: it would be their biggest concert in Germany so far. 4,000 people fit into the Palladium and while the gig wasn’t sold out, the place was still packed. A little spoiled from Luxembourg, I was trying to find some space to move, but it was futile. There just wasn’t any. At all. Yet I managed to mosh my way to the front which I am still proud of.
For the German Enter Shikari fans, this was also a special show: it was the first time they could enjoy the quadrophonic sound and the first time the band could utilise it outside of the UK. I was really excited to experience it for the first time. Surround sound for a concert? That must be epic! The thing is that I completely forgot about it during the show. I don’t know if it was me, if my spot wasn’t ideal for it or if it’s just really subtle, but I plainly didn’t notice any difference to the usual sound setup whatsoever which was a bit underwhelming.
The concert in Cologne was completely different to the shows in Amsterdam and Luxembourg. Besides the venue being much bigger, the audience was made up of the typical German hardcore fans who drank a lot, moshed hard, smelled bad, pushed and pulled where possible. From my spot it looked as if the whole audience from front to back was in once big mosh pit. There was a lot of movement and crowd-surfing, and truth be told, as a female you have to know this kind of audience to really appreciate it. You will only enjoy yourself when you move with the crowd and join the mayhem. Sadly, for newbies who experienced their first Shikari show, it must’ve been somewhat frightening. I saw quite a few red-headed girls, close to tears, desperately trying to hold onto their boyfriends. But that’s how it is: either you can’t get enough of it, or you’re the type of person who’s better off standing on the side or in the back.
After three shows, I expected the performance of the band to become a bit boring to watch or to lose its energy at least slightly. Impressively, it didn’t one bit. You could feel how much the guys were enjoying this mad audience, feeding from its energy.
Make sure to check out our gallery of epic live shots taken in Cologne!
“Zzzonked” after the “Quickfire”-section: I’m sure most of my bruises are from that song. After all these years, it’s still so much fun to go crazy to “Zzzonked”.
“Live Outside”: I made sure to sing along especially loud since this was my last show of this tour. The first single of The Spark is such a great closer and it’s fun to watch Rou lose his shit.
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