Pick Your Rock and Metal

Friday, May 26, 2017

LIVE REVIEW: Enter Shikari rip up Limelight with Crossfaith

FOR many, heavy metal equals vocalist, guitar, bass and drums. No more. No less. It's a stubborn mentality that restricts them from enjoying a plethora of modern acts, two of which hit Belfast's Limelight 1 this evening.

When Crossfaith take to the stage, they open their set with a hard 4/4 electronic kick that wouldn't be out of place in any trance club. And, the crowd kick off instantly. There's dancing, there's bouncing and there's headbanging. Within moments, Kenta asks for a circle pit, and he doesn't have to ask twice. He asks, he gets.

Too many support acts are greeted with polite head bobbing and a spattering of fans on the barrier. This is not that kind of gig. This is lit. Seriously, this show is fuckin' LIT!!!

Crossfaith rattle on with a set that can only be described as metalcore with a massive dose of trance synths, techno acid lines and the unmistakable wub-wub-wub sounds of dubstep.

Terufumi occasionally steps away from drum machines and synths to add a second layer of vocals, while occasionally swigging from a bottle of Jack Daniels. Bass player, Hiroki is also armed with a bottle of Jameson. This is clearly a band that love their drink (further evidenced by their song "Jagerbomb").

At one stage, the band disappear off stage with only the vocalist and "DJ" returning, and break into... a remix of Human Resource's Dominator, a rave track from 1991. There couldn't be more than a hand full of people in this room familiar with the original, but it gets the crowd moving none the less. But not as much as the following track, a faithful cover of The Prodigy's Omen, a song that gets the "everyone get get down and bounce up again when the song kicks in" treatment.

A few more tracks wrap up the set, during which we get two walls of death in the pit. And finally Crossfaith leave the stage, leaving a Limelight crowd soaked in sweat. I don't doubt for a minute that they'll be back at some stage as a headline act. They've earned it.

Enter Shikari have promoted this gig as a "warm up show" for their Slam Dunk festival headline slots, and for some that's disappointing. We know in advance that we're getting a stripped down show. No quadraphonic sound, no screens, no elaborate light show. The flip side is, few are likely to witness Enter Shikari in a venue the size of the Limelight now. They've successfully sold out arenas in the mainland UK and are tipped to be a future headliner at Download festival. So a smaller intimate show is welcome. And, for many, the music is the main attraction anyway.

As the stage techs start shifting kit, the crowd are clearly hyped for the main act. The well known lyrics "and still we will be here, standing like statues" is chanted by the crowd. Many fans hold their hands in the air, using their fingers to form the band's iconic triangular logo.

The lights drop and an almighty rumble of bass is unleashed from the speakers. And to celebrate ten years of Take To The Skies, Enter Shikari burst into that album. From the self titled Enter Shikari, the anthemic Mothership, through Anything Can Happen In The Next Half Hour and into Labyrinth...

Despite the anniversary of the afore mentioned album, Enter Shikari seem self aware enough to realise that playing the album "in its entirety", as per tradition, is not the best route. Not all albums are strong enough to sustain a full live outing (I'm looking at you Fear Factory). And so it's at this stage that we deviate from Take To The Skies.

A hat-trick of Last Garrison, Sorry You're Not A Winner and Juggernaut has this old codger (relatively speaking) pushing to the front of the crowd to get down with the kids (though my knees are paying the price this morning).

Another crowd favourite, Anaesthetist, keeps the pit busy, not that it's relented since the start of the show. A mish-mash of dancing, push-pitting and the odd two-stepper keeps the atmosphere buzzing.

As Rou asks the crowd "Is everyone enjoying the nostalgia?" we return to Take To The Skies with Return To Energiser, a track that has the whole room singing in unison at the top of their lungs, followed by Jonny Sniper.

If you know Enter Shikari, you'll have known that we weren't getting through the night without mention of the recent atrocity at Manchester Arena. "If they, whoever they are, want to start a war with live music, they will always lose". Rou delivers a touching speech.

Some of the crowd listen attentively while others break into a "Man-chest-er!!!" chant. A cover of Oasis's Half The World Away is played, followed by their own Adieu, during which the crowd all hunker down. More than a few tears are wiped from cheeks.

Exit left, and the lights drop. The chants begin, but we don't have to wait long for the inevitable encore.

As Enter Shikari return to the stage, they break into Redshift, a song that I personally find a bit too devoid of their trademark sound, but OK Time For Plan B makes up for it. They finish with The Appeal And The Mindshift, an absolute rager that you just can't not dance to.

Gig ends…

I confess I'd a sneaky peak at Dublin's setlist before the gig, and on paper it looked a bit flat. While there's a lot of love for Take To The Skies, I always felt that it was their second album, Common Dreads, where they really nailed their groundbreaking sound. However, despite skipping a bunch of my favourite tracks, Enter Shikari delivered in spades. Crossfaith were the perfect support act. And the crowd added almost as much to the show as the bands did. A fantastic night of modern metal left me drenched in sweat with a massive smile on my face. 9/10

Now can someone book these guys for a full Belfast gig? Stage show et al. I'd suggest Ulster Hall. Thanks. 🙂

Review by Wayne Donaldson
Pictures by Darren McVeigh

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