Astroid Boys come on stage to a fast growing crowd and open with some of their newer material, from recently released debut album, Broke. New hits: Mask, Cheque, Dirt and Foreigners kick off the evening’s festivities, to a mixed reaction from the crowd. Astroid Boys are known for their brilliant live shows, mainly in small venues, and their new material is performed brilliantly, yet doesn’t really resonate with the crowd. Whilst the crowd might not receive the new material too warmly, there is still plenty of movement in the pit and people echoing the band’s lyrics back to them. By mid-set, the crowd had swelled to fill nearly half of the venue’s main floor space, and when the band delve into Bacon Dream tracks, starting with Minging, the entire room erupts. The band and the crowd keep up the raucous antics as the band move onto Dusted, which gets just as strong a response. Set closer Ghost, another from Broke reestablishes a calm across the crowd, yet for one of the set’s more minimalist tracks, the band go out with plenty of energy.
Lower Than Atlantis’ arrival comes as the venue is nearly packed to the rafters and after walking on stage to an atmospheric piano piece, the band kick straight into the turbulent, and rocky intro of Had Enough, which dissolves into a brilliant euphoric verse. Lower Than Atlantis’ set is masterfully balanced between heavy rock riffs, uplifting verses and huge choruses. While they might not be as heavy as Shikari, they get the crowd bouncing and more than warmed up for what is next to come. New record, Safe in Sound makes up nearly half of the band’s set, with 2014’s self titled record making up the rest. Mid set the band get a circle pit for Work For It, the songs’ recurring opening riff is one of the heavier moments of the set, yet fused alongside the tracks’ massive chorus Lower Than Atlantis show just how brilliant they are live. Knocking out hits, Get Over It and Here We Go only act to solidify how great a performance the band give, and from the crowd’s reaction, show how easily they would fair a headline act themselves.
The Spark’s release as Enter Shikari’s fifth studio album was met with some slight controversy. The record’s minimalist approach was strange and unfamiliar to some, yet tonight any naysayers are silenced. The Spark’s glittering opening chords announce Enter Shikari’s entrance before they giving a flawless performance of new single The Sights. The band then tear straight into a brilliant performance of Solidarity. The band finish the song with vocalist Rou Reynolds addressing the crowd, “Greetings Carbon based lifeforms” before stating “we’re gonna go way back now”, as the band kick into Anything Can Happen in the Next Half Hour. Unique instrument “The Machine” or “Sparky” as the band have endearingly christened it plays a vital role in the group’s set even in hits from earlier in their career.
New tracks: Take My Country Back, Undercover Agents and Airfield are all non single tracks that receive just as warm a welcome as the rest of the tracks in the set, with the crowd singing every word back to Reynolds and co. Airfield and Adieu are given heart wrenching performances up on the venues mezzanine level, with Reynolds playing a piano, with drummer Rob Rolfe accompanying him for percussion.
One of the set’s highlights is a lightning round of hits churned out within eight minutes, with Sorry You’re Not A Winner, Sssnakepit, Meltdown and Antwerpen all a wonderfully fused medley of hits alongside some of the band’s lesser performed work. Alongside the band’s performance being played via quadraphonic sound, the Shikari bring a huge stage show with a huge screen being used as the stage’s backdrop. Arguing With Thermometers is accompanied by images of oil fields, ships trawling the arctic waters, and blood. Even more unsettling are Rabble Rouser’s visuals, Reynolds’ face looks down from the screen on the crowd like Big Brother as it perfectly mouths along to the lyrics.
Shikari’s return to Victoria Warehouse sees them having grown and matured over the past year, with Reynolds having spoken out about remaining positive in the face of the adversity he has faced over the past year. During the set Reynolds announces “Fucking hell I wanna play Manchester every week”. The band give a flawless performance, with the energy and atmosphere unrivaled by many of their peers live shows.
Photo credit: Gaz Davies – his full gallery for the evening can be found here.