Live review: Enter Shikari, London OVO Arena Wembley

Wembley, mate, Wembley: Enter Shikari triumph at euphoric London arena spectacular…

Live review: Enter Shikari, London OVO Arena Wembley
Emma Wilkes
Jez Pennington

We’re only seven weeks into 2024, but Enter Shikari's ascent to Wembley might just clench the title of gig of the year. It always had the potential to, what with it being the biggest headline show yet from a band renowned for their head-spinning tricks with light and sound when they play live. Despite that, somehow, they’ve outdone themselves. Everyone there – all of whom, by buying a ticket, donated a fund to support grassroots venues, matched by the arena itself, proving how easily this can be done when people can actually be bothered – can count themselves extremely lucky to be part of it.

Kicking things off is pop-punk newcomer NOAHFINNCE, whose live show, while a little green, has more than a few glimmers of potential. The guitars on Growing Up On The Internet and 3 Day Headache sound monstrous out of Wembley’s speakers, but ordinary, sunny pop-punk this is not – not when it’s intercut with audio of Margaret Thatcher and Rishi Sunak spouting anti-LGBTQ hatred. The highlight of the set, incidentally, sees a girl dressed as Hermione from Harry Potter perform a frenetic dance routine to self-proclaimed "diss track for transphobes and TERFs" Scumbag, serving as a hilarious yet beautiful ‘fuck you’ to the franchise’s creator.

FEVER 333, meanwhile, appear on the cusp of setting the place alight. Jason Aalon Butler’s band of protest punks put on a furious display, while he screams like he has razors in his throat. Between speeches about standing with “our brothers and sisters in Palestine” and “honouring our women on this stage”, they sound colossal, treating Wembley as their own club show where Jason can jump off amps and dive into the crowd. It’s a stunning performance, and as they leave, it feels like they’ve audaciously thrown Enter Shikari a gauntlet.

Then again, St Albans quartet don’t need to build up to their arrival. Instead, at the top of the show, frontman Rou Reynolds appears alone in a spotlight for the impassioned System… with the crowd roaring back every word. There’s a litany of indelible moments such as these to come in the next hour and 40 minutes. Even if you’ve seen Shikari more times than you can count on two hands, what they do in this space is an unrivalled triumph. They put the sound system through its paces with the scorching Anaesthetist and a vicious airing of Sssnakepit that feel even more euphoric against kaleidoscopic video projections, wild light shows and, of course, plenty of lasers, transforming this arena gig into a huge warehouse rave.

There’s so much joy in this room, but there’s poignancy, too. Rou makes arena rock balladry even more beautiful with a stripped back one-two of the pressure’s on and Juggernauts, performed while sitting atop a giant cube made to look like a skyscraper. Goldfish, meanwhile, attains a leaden weight when performed right after a speech about Palestine – “I hope there’s a Gaza and a Palestine left when this fucking nightmare ends,” says Rou. Elsewhere, Satellites – a song that gets increasingly relevant by the day thanks to the hostile rhetoric of politicians – becomes even more uplifting when Sam Ryder (who Shikari met on Warped Tour, no less) comes out to add some falsettos.

Put it all together, and it’s the gigantic evening this band deserves, as showmen, as political firebrands and as rock’s heroes of the people. What an absolute fucking masterclass.

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