Enter Shikari, easily one of the biggest Rock exports representing the British Alternative scene in recent years, kick off their 2019 with a mammoth UK & Europe 'Stop The Clocks Tour', which sees plenty of the dates sold out. Tonight they stop off at a packed Birmingham O2 Academy, accompanied by Brighton rockers Black Peaks and Toronto outfit Palaye Royale, who have had a bit of a rocky start to the tour so far to say the least.
First up on the night is Black Peaks. The venue already isn't all that far off from being at full capacity, the people are eager for this show tonight and you can feel the buzz of excitement in the air. I'm guilty of not really knowing all that much about Black Peaks before the night starts, but sometimes the best way to be introduced to a band is to go and see them live. Their set seems to go by in a flash, with the highlight being the opener 'Glass Built Castles'. The rest of the set consists of songs from last year's release 'All That Divides' and by the time the closer 'The Midnight Sun' comes around I think it's fair to say they've won over some of the audience tonight. They were an enjoyable watch and after their 5 song slot it does leave you wanting to see more.
Next up, is Palaye Royale. They've had a bit of a tough time on this tour so far, having been kicked out of a few shows and also receiving a bit of unwanted backlash from a minority of Shikari's fans, which saw Enter Shikari release a statement defending Palaye Royale, and also ask that all fans treat the band and fellow crowd members with respect. There's nothing in the way of any controversy tonight though, and in fact they put on a very enjoyable performance.
There's no denying that the audience are a bit sceptical of Palaye Royale, and they probably don't enjoy them as much as I did, but that doesn't mean that the performance wasn't there tonight by any means. 'You'll Be Fine' stands out as the strongest of their set, frontman Remington Leith's distinct piercing vocals on this one are a real joy. Palaye Royale aren't just artists for the ears either though, they pride themselves on being fashion artists as well and it very much plays a big part in their show, you seriously can't take your eyes off of them, particularly Remington and his brother Sebastian Danzig, who dances about the stage with his guitar non-stop. I think this is the sort of band that fans will look back on in ten years time and wish they had given them more of a chance while they were somewhat still fairly small.
With the venue now rammed to the rafters, Enter Shikari take to the stage and the atmosphere is instantly as electric as you'd expect. They open with 'The Sights', and while they have a huge back catalogue to choose their set from now, this is probably the perfect way to start off their performance, it's an insight to what the night has instore for us. Rou Reynolds really is one hell of a frontman, dressed to the nines and with a glass of gin in hand, he commands the crowd with ease. A huge confetti canon goes off during the third song 'Labyrinth' showing us that Shikari aren't messing about tonight, they're pulling out the big guns from the start!
The stage set up is beautiful, with large neon cubes placed unevenly throughout the stage, which compliments their electronicore style nicely. The pace picks up (if that's even possible) with 'Arguing With Thermometers', 'Rabble Rouser' and 'Hectic', the setlist really is flowing wonderfully and the newer material seems to be just as much appreciated as the older classics.
Those that still have enough energy left in the tank are really made to break a sweat by the time the quickfire round comes around, for those that are unfamiliar, it's essentially shortened versions of favourites such as 'Sorry You're Not A Winner', 'The Last Garrison', '...Meltdown' & a remix of 'Anaesthetist' all blended in to one, at a ridiculous high tempo, to put it lightly, it's fucking nuts.
I've never witnessed a crowd sing back to the band like tonight, every song is a sing along, and this continues into the encore with Rou performing a solo acoustic rendition of 'Take My Country Back' before eventually bringing the curtains down on the massive 'Live Outside'.
Enter Shikari are very much a band in the prime of their career, or are they? Who honestly knows what heights this lot can reach. One things for sure though, go and see them, or miss out!
Enter Shikari - https://www.facebook.com/entershikari/
Palaye Royale - https://www.facebook.com/PalayeRoyale/
Black Peaks - https://www.facebook.com/blackpeaks/
Photos & Review - Sam Robinson Photography