The Enemy’s return to Somerset House to show off their long-awaited new album is accompanied by a relentless drizzle typical of this summer, but neither the band nor the crowd let that blight their mood. In fact, the British blitz spirit prevails as all involved make it their mission to enjoy themselves regardless.
True, the rather lovely setting means that half the battle is already won to ensure their audience goes home satisfied, but to the band’s credit the majority of the crowd are attentive from the off to the end. When a band falls squarely into the ‘generic indie boy band’ category, there are no expectations to be crushed. But as the familiar shouty vocals of ‘Away From Here’ boom out into the wet sky, landing at the crowd’s shuffling feet, it’s hard to think of many better things to do on a soggy July night than be here, in this courtyard, singing along. The best thing to do is imagine them as a covers band who are clever enough to create their own versions.
This band wear their many (mostly 80s/90s) influences unashamedly on their scruffy sleeves - and it has no doubt been noted that 1st album title track ‘We’ll live and die in these towns’ is uncannily similar to the Jam’s ‘That’s Entertainment’. Although there is nothing remarkably original about the tunes they churn out, live they are energetic and tuneful enough to keep us completely engaged in the moment for the time they are on stage. Before becoming big in their own right, the Enemy supported the Manic Street Preachers and Oasis amongst others, and as they talk easily to the crowd between songs it seems they’ve committed to memory the lessons of the aloof but charismatic school of lad-rock.
Like most successful British acts, the Enemy appeal to the nation’s social conscience, striking a powerful chord with ‘This Song is About You’ from their first album – “This is for all those people fighting for a living wage”, says frontman Tom Clarke. Ode to Britpop ‘Happy birthday Jane’ seems popular with the many liars in the audience who claim it’s their birthday.
Unfortunately for them, most of the winning numbers spring from debut album ‘We’ll live and die in these towns’, but some newer tracks, such as Streets in the Sky’s ‘Like a Dancer’, go down well.
Attending a performance in this setting by a more unique band would be truly incredible. It’s hard to avoid the fact that the Enemy were propped up by the magical surroundings tonight, but as generic indie boy bands go, they do a good job of recreating songs we have known and loved.