Celebrating Ten Years of Take To The Skies: Enter Shikari Live At Barrowlands Ballroom

Let me take you back ten years. I was nought but a little scamp about to see one of my first live shows. I was so excited to see Enter Shikari for the very first time, I was like a kid who had eaten too many sweeties. Actually it was more like a toddler who had just downed 10 red bulls, 5 cups of black coffee and sniffed a big old line of coke. Back then I wouldn’t have dreamed that ten years in the future I would get to witness my favourite band play my favourite album again or that I would be able to match that much excitement ever again. But here we are. 2017, a year in which I had one of the best nights of my entire life. The only moments that could possible top this night are possibly my wedding day or perhaps the birth of my first yet to be born child.

And Still We Will Be Here

The sweaty anticipation was almost too much. Chants of ‘here we fucking go’ or ‘and still we will be here standing like statues’ arose and descended from the pumped up crowd. Smoke creped onto the stage and streams of purple illuminated the sea of faces in front row. Then the cheers erupted as Enter Shikari took to the stage to open their set off in the only way it could, with the tension hyping Stand Your Ground This Is Ancient Land. The entire band was front and centre with the one and only Rob Rolfe beating out the drums on a electric kit placed on the front lines.   

SHIT! *Screams*

Rou could have started a riot with the force of the opening lines from titular track. The crowd belted out ‘SHIT’ so loud I could have sworn my ears exploded. That’s all it took to kick the gig into gear. The pit erupted and everyone was screaming lyrics out so loudly it could have scared anyone not use to seeing a band of this calibre. Crowd surfers toppled over the barrier into the arms of the security at every given opportunity. It was a mesh of arms, hands, legs and faces. The song  erupted into the rave of Mothership and people were back in action. Bouncing up and down in unison. Testing the foundation of the building. Pushing the floor to its very limits. The song was a real moshers dream as the pit drew more and more people in. It became clear what was going down. First Stand Your Ground This Is Ancient Land then Enter Shikari followed by Mothership, it was time for Anything Can Happen In The Next Half Hour. Which was lucky as the melodic calmness gave crowd a chance to wipe their drenched faces and hair on t-shirts and the like before Labyrinth tore onto the scene. Just to give you an example of the sheer amount of sweat on display, bassist Chris Batten‘s shirt was almost see-thru by this point. It was a thrill to hear some new material as well with Last Garrison breaking up the Take To The Skies combo. The outburst of fist clenching aggression spliced between catchy chorus and melodic bridges was a treat to witness live. Members of the crowd went from pit dwelling moshers to  arm raised chanters to swaying dancers / steppers all in a matter of minutes.   

*Clap Clap Clap*

We knew what was coming the moment Rory C kicked off the bands most memorable riff. Sorry Your Not A Winner revitalised the crowd who at this point were more sweat and bear stains than people. The clap, clap, clap could be heard from every corner of the venue and possibly even the centre of Glasgow. Every lyric hungry member of the crowd was clambering forward to get their chance to scream the lyrics directly into the mic as Rou plunged it deep into the front row time and time again. Another memorable song followed suit, this time off their second album Common Dreads. Juggernauts saw instruments fly and bodies both on and off stage were moving to the synth driven riff. It was slightly ironic that No Sssweat was played towards the latter half of the set as by this point nothing in the venue was sweat free. Probably the most aggressive and heavy song in the bands arsenal, it had the crowd going all out once more spitefully yelling ‘do this one more time and I’ll bite your fucking fingers off’ as the song closed.   

Change of Pace

Things took a change of pace for the first slow song, Today Won’t Go Down In History. Don’t get me wrong there was still plenty of people chanting out the lyrics and arms were out stretched swaying to the calming ballad like nature of the song. A haunting moment as the lights dimmed down and hundreds of fans sang along. It just goes to show you gigs aren’t always about the biggest mosh pit, or craziest stage dives but the feeling of being surrounded by people unified by their love of live music.

Step the Fuck Back

Another hit from The Mindsweep followed suit with the politically charged Anaesthetist breaking out. The drum and bass bounce of a Rob and Chris combo kept the crowd moving. Rou and Rory traded off their vocals with precision whilst maintaining the high energy that people expect from a Shikari live show. Then the breakdown, oh that dirty, nasty breakdown! It almost broke me. I knew it was coming but hearing it live was something else. An earth shattering, neck wrenching, ball busting piece of music. The heavy streak continued with Return To Energiser. The line ‘We still have the element of surprise, defence shields DOWN!’ was like a calling card for moshers to go all out. The pit erupted and pulled in people from all corners of the gig. The song phased out as people repeated ‘And all hell breaks loose, when you’re here’ with the fading of the lights, unaware of the greatness that was about to befall them.        

We Bid Shikari Adieu

The moment I heard Rob declare everyone stand to attention, I knew it was time. Time for my favourite song in the history of ever. The song I want at my funeral. Jonny Sniper. The military drumming and parade like keys had people saluting, holding their fist over their hearts and preparing for the energetic opening. Seeing a throng of people all waiting for those opening lyrics was something special to behold.  As the set drew to its end Rou dedicated a song to the victims of the recent Manchester bombing. Adieu was met with cheers from the crowd as a show of strength that nothing can kill off peoples love for live music and entertainment. Anyone who says bands like this ‘just scream’ should really see Rou live. His cleans are impeccable even after an hour of harsh, throaty screaming. Fans sung loud and proud with the whole venue uniting in a show of solidarity. Once the song was other the rowdy behaviour resumed as familiar chants beckoned the band back for an encore.

Let This Battle Commence One Last Time

I don’t know how people still had the energy to continue at this point but we managed it. I got goose bumps when Redshift started the encore. Something just hit me, whether it was the lyrics, hearing a mass of people singing as one or the energy of the chorus. The song was a magical moment from an already mind blowing gig. Ok, Time For Plan  was the final Take To The Skies song to be played. If people didn’t have the strength left to mosh this one out I wouldn’t have blamed them. However the crowd seem fuelled to see this to the very end. Giving it as much as they had at the start of the gig and by the time that outro rolled around the pits had opened back up and bodies were flowing over the tops of heads. One final song awaited. The Appeal & Mindsweep II was the right way to end the gig. A mental last chance to go berserk. Enter Shikari thrashed about on stage, frantically shredding the song out. As the song drew to its conclusion Rou climbed on the amp stack one final time and hung his guitar off the speakers. And that’s the image the crowd was left with. Rou’s hanging guitar as it droned feedback over the silent stage. What a way to end one of the most energetic, hyper, sweaty and exhilarating gigs I have ever attended.

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