Walking through London’s Alexandra Palace, it’s almost as if the arena was the headliner’s own private festival. In addition to the merch stands, craft beer and world food were being sold from stands in the foyer. The size of the arena is immense, to the point where there was a jazz fusion band playing to anyone who was taking their time and milling around. Yet, if you were to go straight to the arena to reserve your space at the barrier, you wouldn’t even know there was a mini-festival happening only a room away.
As Ally Pally’s main room was filling up quite respectably, support act Lower Than Atlantis (★★★) took to the stage. Even though this wasn’t their tour, it was clear they had their fair share of fans in the crowd, going by the amount of screams emanating from the front row.
Wasting no time, the Herts four-piece kicked off their set with Safe In Sound’s Had Enough. As LTA played through their set, it was strange to see a straight up rock band seem so out of place, given the headliner’s obvious massive blend of influences. In between a set list full of tracks such as Ain’t No Friend and Get Over It, lead vocalist and guitarist Mike Duce’s crowd work left something to desire. Although statements like “if you aren’t with us you’re against us, and you don’t want that” are meant in jest (I hope), it really doesn’t translate well, and instead of being cocky and funny, when he addressed the crowd of fans, he appeared smugger than intended.
As the band were finishing up the set, the crowd were asked to get down as low as they could. As soon as English Kids In America dropped, every fan in London jumped up to their feet to mosh, dance and sing along. This energy was still prevalent as Lower Than Atlantis closed out their set with Here We Go.
During the interim between bands, fans were milling around, either queuing at the bar or outside at the smoking area, when out of nowhere, a familiar voice spoke over the PA: “10 minutes until operation: The Spark”.
Announcements continued as Ally Pally’s main room filled up. Secret agents Magpie, Lion, Ostrich and Arctic Fox signed in, and the first glimpse of the impressive quadrophonic sound was witnessed as the sounds of airplanes whizzed around the arena.
As the sounds of The Spark filled Alexandra Palace, Enter Shikari (★★★★★) hit the stage and began playing new single The Sights. From the first chord, the headliner’s impressive stage show was on full display, with strobe lights flashing and a radar dish suspended from the ceiling.
Even though this was very much The Spark Tour, it didn’t stop the band from surprising the audience with Solidarity and the decade old single Anything Can Happen In The Next Half Hour. After a small microphone malfunction (read: Rou managed to break his mic not four songs in) the St. Albans four-piece went straight back to their chaotic performance as the fans sung along to The Last Garrison. All throughout their set, Enter Shikari had strips of lights flashing, video feeds projected either side of the stage, and their radar dish showing off not only pre-made visuals for each song, but even a live feed of Lead Vocalist Rou’s typewriter to introduce The Spark’s Undercover Agents. As visuals of climate change consequences filled the radar dish to the sound of Arguing With Thermometers, the scale of Enter Shikari’s arena tour hit home: an independent hardcore band were selling out arenas, and bringing a show to match this achievement’s magnitude.
As the last few notes of Rabble Rouser rang out, Alexandra Palace was immersed in darkness. A brief radio transmission declared someone was trapped on an airfield, and as the sounds of airplanes whizzed all around, the lights came back up to reveal Rou on their “B stage”, a small stage right in the centre of the main room, with a piano and a drum kit.
As Rou played a beautiful rendition of Airfield, drummer Rob Rolfe joined him on the tiny stage to complete the track’s immense ending, and then to hype the crowd when fan-favourite Adieu ended with the Routron 5000 remix.
Once all band members were back on stage together, Rou announced they were about to play something special: a quickfire round. Blending the iconic Sorry, You’re Not A Winner with not only Sssnakepit and …Meltdown, but the rarely played Antwepen, the quickfire round had the crowd at a fever pitch. This level of excitement was exactly what they band had hoped for as they finished the set with the ever-rowdy, knees up affair that is Zzzonked.
After a brief pause, the band returned to stage triumphant to play their encore. After the euphoric Redshift, Enter Shikari ended their headline Alexandra Palace show with Live Outside, which had fans singing long after the house lights went up and the arena slowly emptied.