The Enemy @ Birmingham Academy – 31st March 2009

The Enemy

The Enemy. One of Coventry’s most famous exports after The Specials, Peugeot and various forms of munitions used in WW2. I’m only aware of the bands birthplace as Tom Clarke the bands front man seems to have the annoying habit of mentioning “Cov” several times during each and every TV and radio appearance. As the bands headline tour kicked off at Birmingham’s Academy before they become support for Oasis during their forthcoming tour it’ll be interesting to see whether The Enemy regard their headline tour of smaller venues as ‘The Main Event’ or as a warm to the forthcoming Oasis Stadium Tour.

The first thing that genuinely surprised me was the crowd. I’d pre-conditioned myself into thinking the entire venue was likely to have every nook and cranny filled with Teenage faux Mod Harrington wearing Enemy wannabees, I’d almost considered dressing the part myself. I was even more surprised to find the vast majority of the crowd were older than my own modest 32 years. Even more surprising was the crowd appeared to know every song and appeared to be genuine fans.
Just prior to the bands entrance we were treated to The Verve‘s — Bitter Sweet Symphony’. As the hands went up in the air, as the crowd started singing. I couldn’t help but wonder whether this would be a major highlight of the evening’s entertainment. By now you’ve probably realised that ‘The Enemy’ are far from being my favourite new band, but fairs fair I gave them a chance to impress and prove me wrong. And that they did…

The EnemyThe Enemy

The lights dimmed, smoke filled the stage and the venue erupted with the sound of a medium paced kick drum calling for everyone to start thumping the floor with their feet. By means of an introduction it was a good sign for the rest of the night. The Intro soon ended heading straight into ‘Had Enough’ without a seconds pause. It was quite apparent this was going to be one of those hands and quite often feet in the air gigs with the squeezing room only crowd on the dance floor belting their hearts out to each and every word. Tom’s vocals were crisp, clear and lacked the aggressive edge you pick up on some of their earlier album tracks. The sound from the majority of the songs was heavily drum focused, although never overpowering. For someone so young Liam Watts is more than capable of holding together an impressive purposeful beat without sounding overly complicated or drumming for the sake of drumming. Definitely a sound that compliments their edgy modern punk style. It was quite apparent the band was here to play and meant business, pauses between songs was kept to a minimum if indeed there was a pause at all. Crowd participation was pretty minimal too. With Tom Clarke not really communicating with the audience until track 10.

The EnemyThe Enemy

Standout tracks from the evening were easily ‘No Time for Tears’. Currently doing the rounds near the top of Radio 1’s playlist. The quiet intro lasting only a few seconds before Liam commenced pounding the drums bringing Tom in singing about “The morning after, the revolution.”
The second highlight and obviously the song the crowd knew best was ‘We’ll Live and Die In These Towns’. Barely a word was left unspoken by the crowd with Tom urging the crowd to join in with the chorus. Not that it was needed — The crowd were here to join in and that’s what they did.
But by far the highlight from the evening was the final song of their strong 14 song set ‘You’re Not Alone’. Tom started by thanking the audience before sending special thanks to the ‘Mosh Pit’. This pretty much got the entire dance floor bouncing with legs and limbs protruding from every possible corner. The lighting, which so far had been nicely subdued and back lighting the band came alive. showering the entire room with strobes, spotlights and a huge pixelated video projection featuring the band and audience.

The Enemy

For a band so young The Enemy certainly impressed. The set was flawless, polished, fast paced and very capable of getting the crowd singing and bouncing. I may still not be their biggest fan but I left with a feeling of newfound respect for the Coventry three piece and was even more pleased at not hearing ‘Cov’ mentioned once. Was ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ a highlight? Not even close.

Review – Lee Hathaway
Photos – Helen Williams

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