Date: January 12th 2019
Venue: O2 Academy Brixton, London
Support: Black Peaks / Palaye Royale
Hertfordshire’s notorious genre-boundary-defying quartet Enter Shikari haven’t played the equally notorious O2 Academy Brixton for some time – ten years, to be exact. Since then, they’ve been off playing shows at some smaller, more obscure venues, like Alexandra Palace, and the O2 Arena (supporting Bring Me The Horizon). Crikey.
Tonight, though, it’s time for them to revisit an old haunt – and presumably tear the place apart, as they’re known to do.
Do Black Peaks  have it in them to follow in Architects‘ footsteps and become the next big thing to emerge from Brighton’s metal scene? If this set is anything to go by, then quite possibly. Unsurprisingly, with the exception of opener ‘Glass Built Castles’ and its monstrous chorus, the set consists entirely of material from last year’s critically acclaimed sophomore album, ‘All That Divides’.
Entirely undeterred by what is a fairly meager and unenthused crowd, Will Gardner and co. power through their set with aplomb, ending on a masterful rendition of ‘The Midnight Sun’. Perhaps their own Wembley show isn’t out of reach.
With their support slot shrouded in the wake of social media controversy, Palaye Royale  have drawn a much larger crowd, eager to see what the fuss is about. Sadly, it’s not much to write home about. Their The Rolling Stones-inspired numbers like ‘Mr. Doctor Man’ and ‘You’ll Be Fine’ aren’t bad themselves – but they just aren’t as much fun live as they are on record, and the pseudo-badassery in their mid-set patter feels contrived and insincere.
In fact, their touring members look like they’d rather be anywhere else. Still, that’s not strictly the band’s fault, and the handful of die-hard fans packed down the front are eating out of the palm of frontman Remington Leith‘s hand who, in fairness, has enough energy to power a five-piece all by himself.
Tonight is the sixteenth show of Enter Shikari’s  gargantuan thirty three date Stop The Clocks Tour, and that’s just the first leg. You’d think they’d be exhausted, but there’s no sign of any trace of fatigue their performance tonight.
In the first twenty minutes, they whip through tracks from four of their albums; ‘The Sights’ from latest effort ‘The Spark’, the rousing ‘Step Up’ from ‘Common Dreads’, nostalgia trip ‘Labyrinth’ from ‘Take To The Skies’, and ‘Arguing With Thermometers’ from ‘A Flash Flood Of Colour’. It’s a shock to the senses as you realise just what an impressive and varied back catalogue they have, and it’s one they intend to show off in full tonight.
The crowd embraces the new tracks, welcoming them into the family with open arms, particularly the ferocious ‘Rabble Rouser’ which lives up to its name, and is sure to land itself among other live classics like ‘Sorry, You’re Not A Winner’ and ‘The Last Garrison’, both of which soar tonight. Rou Reynolds has come a long way as a vocalist, as proven when he picks up an acoustic guitar on the likes of ‘Gap In The Fence’ and ‘Take My Country Back’, and a stirring piano rendition of ‘Airfield’ sets eyes watering.
Much like the tour itself, it’s a titanic setlist, coming in at twenty six songs: just another reminder that this band don’t do things by halves. Naturally, they have to shorten a number of songs in order to squeeze in as many as possible, and whilst it seems a shame to not get the full version of fan favourites like ‘Mothership’, it also feels worth it if it means getting to hear so many of those killer choruses.
Perhaps it’ll be another ten years before Enter Shikari return to Brixton once more, but it’ll be with a ton more experimental bangers in their arsenal, and probably with a heap of other, less intimate shows in the meantime. Frankly, it’s looking like it won’t be long before Ally Pally is no longer big enough.