The Enemy -  Manchester Academy 1 - 22.3.09
If you know any demographers, ask them which city is the geographical centre of Great Britain's population and they will tell you, after a short time, that it is, more or less, Coventry. It is also the home of the Lady Godiva story, seventies two-tone pioneers The Specials and, most recently, the Enemy who, in the shadow of 2007's all-conquering and platinum-selling We Live and Die in These Towns are set to release their second studio album, Music For The People, in April. They may look like an angry McFly, but given the Enemy's talent for the anarchic post-punk anthem and perhaps their geographical advantage, based as they are in the heart of the nation, the title suggests another timely injection of angst and disillusionment straight into the national psyche during these unpredictable and challenging times.
Like lead singer Tom Clarke, the set is short and noisy, barely passing the hour mark, including mandatory encore. This allows just enough time for the skilful performance of the whole of the first album, with only a glimpse of the new material. In interviews, Tom has spoken of The Enemy's 'new sound' but it is difficult to discern as the new tracks including the soon-to-be-released No Time For Tears sit unremarkably, if comfortably, between established favourites such as It's Not OK and Aggro. Prior to their explosion into public awareness in 2007, these three talented musicians were supporting the Manic Street Preachers on a UK small venue tour. At that time, free from new-album advances and (hard earned) royalties, the band relied only on the energetic and passionate delivery of their middle-England message and it was really very impressive. No bells, no whistles; just fast-paced and engaging tunes that spoke of disenchant and societal indifference.
Fast-forward two years and the Academy shows form part of an extremely thorough UK tour and Manchester is surely not alone in identifying with the Enemy's recessionist symbolism; evoking not just the punk sounds of the early eighties but also the mood of the times. This Song and the rousing finale, You're Not Alone, invite impassioned and escapist singalongs and, for a moment, the band connect beautifully with their fans, their people. If Music For The People takes up where We Live and Die... left off, then surely 2009 will be an open goal for these talented upstarts from the heartlands of a nation in trouble. However, if the new sound strays too far from their roots, and it may, then the band could yet find their new offering filed under Difficult Second Album. The glint in Tom Clarke's eyes suggests it will be the former. Doubters beware.
Stewart Darkin

Click here to leave your comments on the Message Board
(NB: The message board opens in a new window so please disable your pop-up blocker to view)