Friday, 21 December 2012

Sub species - Enter Shikari Live at The Roundhouse -

Enter Shikari ****1/2*
Cancer Bats *****

The Roundhouse Camden 17th December 2012

Like a fine old ruby port and a slab of Stinking Bishop’s Finger, tonight is serving as the perfect way to end what’s been a trouser-stretching fat feast of a year for live music.

Not that anyone will give too much of a rat’s rectum, but I’ve cobbled together a de rigeur review of the last 12 months here. Have a look here if you can be arsed.

Anyway, back to tonight’s groaning table.

Cancer Bats *****
First on the bill of fayre (well, 2nd actually but I found myself unavoidably delayed over a schooner of sherry with the good chaps from InMe rather than face the wobbery of the gents in Engine Earz) are dirty greasy Canuck hosers Cancer Bats.

The massive cathedral of a venue is already fuller than Beyonce’s cami-knickers by the time Monsiuer Cormier and his scuzzy, hairy biker boys take to the boards.

There’s growl, bark, bite and big squealy bastard guitar riffage aplenty to wire up the tickly bits of the massive and very young congregation which hits the spot and gets the pit fizzed - up and sweating like Ian Watkins in a wendy house* (*allegedly). 

However, weird and vaguely unsettling sight of the night is a huge, fairly well behaved circle pit with two 14 year old girls, complete with handbags bopping along merrily in the middle. 

Anyway, the big-arsed riffs keep a coming. And climax loudly and wildly in the always-brilliant Lucifer’s Rocking Chair. ‘That’ Beastie Boys cover sets hearts a thumping and arms a pumping as always and the savage Hail Destroyer gets the pits opening up. But I can’t help feeling Cormier’s screamy range operates in too narrow a spectrum to truly excite or enthrall. It’s all a bit, well, grey. Not enough lows. Or, for that matter, highs. 

There’s no debate that he’s a cracking front man and the punked-up, fucked-up, doomed-up noise that mssrs Peters, Middleton and Schwarzer is even dirtier than Kat off EastEnders gusset; but in a huge upturned bucket like The Roundhouse, I’m not convinced grey is vibrant enough. Still, I’m nit-picking, the crowd go nuts and the scene is set for the St Alban’s noiseniks to come and do their thang.

Enter Shikari ****1/2*
For 10 minutes before the lads appear, the packed out former railway engine shed is treated to a selection of ravey, dubby, wobby and bleepy mixed up dance music interspersed with a wonderful retro recording from a mid-west US drive in, counting down the minutes to the performance. A master stroke in heightening the already pre-orgasmic flushes of the attendant scenesters and sixth formers.

Finally the lights dim and the strains of System... throws a lump of sodium into the already ridiculously efforvecent scene soup. And we’re off...

I’ve lost count of the dozens of times I’ve been lucky enough to have my testes rearranged by this lot. And, remarkably they never fail to disappoint. A fiercely independent and fuck-you attitude oozes from every pore and the constant shifting of interpretations and versions of their oeuvre keeps things fresh every time. 

It’s a hoary old chestnut to bang on about their originality and their cross-genre pollenation that defines their sound and stoically bats off categorisation or pigeonholing. But it’s unavoidable. They truly are one of a kind. And continue to plough lone furrows while all around seem to be regressing to some mealy-arsed mean of predicatbility or conformity.

Tonight’s show has all the Shikari benchmarks, hallmarks and skidmarks, but keeps things spicy and appealing. Tantalising teasers like Stand Your Ground make a subliminal appearance before dissolving into Destabilise, remixes and extended intros, outros, bridges and brutal sub bass beatdowns are sprinkled over every dish adding extra firepower, depth and lustre. Labyrinth even got the dust blown off it. 

The brilliant A Flash Flood Of Colour album is unsurprisingly well represented with Arguing With Thermometers and Gandhi Mate, Gandhi standing out in the main set, but for me, Return To Energiser is the total triumph. Ok, it lacks the sublime acoustic ending that Rou served up at the amazing Hammersmith show back in the spring, but with a tinkered with bridge and a huge bowel-relaxing sub added, it shows that the earlier material from the seminal and brilliant Take To The Skies album is as relevant and citricly sharp as ever.

There was even a beer intermission (complete with waiter) in Labyrinth and time for a bit of crowd tomfoolery while Rou is being filmed for an ad promo for the band’s Sssnakepit beer. Tight and slick as most of the show is, there’s still plenty of room for a bit of fucking about and cheeky chappy japes too. Although Mr Reynolds seems forgivably pretty much out on his feet both literally and occasionally vocally.

As the ever-stunning Motherstep/ship brings the main set to a close, it’s clear we’re in the midst of another pretty special Shikari evening. Further underlined when the lads re-appear to play us out with three more fine tunes.

A chilled and sensational interpretation of Constellations, complete with fuck-loads of  festive snowy confetti stuff sprayed all over the sticky scenies sends shivers down spines, sets hairs standing up and moistens more than the odd eyeball before the anthemic Pack Of Thieves makes a rare appearance and turns the venerable old loco shed into a mass Karaoke. Zzzzzonked is an apt way to finish and send the thousands of beglittered, bewildered and broken sweaty urchins spewing out onto the refreshingly chilled Chalk Farm streets. 

I’ve said it before, but no one comes close. Wonderful, warming and world class. 

More tunes next year. Happy Chrimbo and all that bollocks. Bwoooar!

Here’s another link to my review of the year thingy. HAVE A LOOK.

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