What happened when Enter Shikari headlined Download Pilot

Enter Shikari reconfirm their status as one of Britain's best live bands as they headline Download Pilot on Saturday night.

What happened when Enter Shikari headlined Download Pilot
Luke Morton
Bethan Miller

A decade and a half ago, a relatively unknown Enter Shikari packed out the MySpace/Gibson stage at Download Festival on a Friday afternoon. Tonight, they're headlining the main stage, and it's easy to see why.

Anticipation had been growing throughout the day, with the band's epic lightshow hanging from the rafters, putting everyone on notice that they are not here to mess around. For years, the St Albans crew have been one of the greatest live bands on the planet, but have been forced to lay dormant for almost two years, refusing to do a livestream as it lacks the energy and connection that's so integral to the Shikari experience.

With a whole album of material that is to yet to be played live – last year's sensational Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible – picking the perfect party playlist is an unenviable task, but with six LPs in their arsenal, it's Go Big Or Go Home time. No ballads or slow ones here – Donington came to dance. Sssnakepit. Juggernauts. Zzzonked. The Last Garrison. Arguing With Thermometers. It's outrageous behaviour, to be honest.

The new material is also met with a rapturous reception, leaving frontman Rou Reynolds almost overcome with emotion as opener The Great Unknown is bellowed back to him from the off. "I've been waiting 21 months for that,” he cries after the stone cold stunner of The Dreamer's Hotel turns the air thick with joy and adulation. Although it's hard to ignore how wild people still go for Sorry, You're Not A Winner, and boy have we missed the sound of 10,000 people clapping in unison.

But this isn't just a celebration of Shikari's canon, it's about the power and capabilities of live music. The mesmerising, Technicolour lightshow is just one piece of the jigsaw, with confetti and streamer explosions covering the crowd throughout, as Rou hurls himself around the stage, complete with Ian Curtis dance moves and the biggest grin you've seen this side of a Cheshire cat.

In fact, all four of the band take time to drink in what is happening, staring into the capacity crowd almost unable to believe that it's actually happening again. Last year, Rou told us that not being able to play live felt like “the death of the band”, but tonight they've never looked more alive. And as a shirtless Rou jumps into the pit for final track Live Outside, hugging anyone he can, that connection and passion that we've all been craving comes thundering back. Moments like this are what live music is all about, and we cannot take them for granted again.

Enter Shikari Download Pilot setlist:

1. The Great Unknown
2. Destabalise
3. Sssnakepit
4. Juggernauts
5. Modern Living
6. Anaesthetist
7. Satellites
8. Arguing With Thermometers
9. The Paddington Frisk
10. The Last Garrison
11. Zzzonked
12. Sorry, You're Not A Winner
13. Gandhi Mate, Gandhi
14. Mothership
15. Solidarity
16. The Dreamer's Hotel
17. Live Outside

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