Driving to Club NEO in Yeovil on Friday night, I was dubious about The Enemy’s live performance. Having listened to them since shortly after they emerged in Coventry in 2006, their lyrics became more relevant as I re-listened – an older version of myself, who shared the same hometown and refused to ‘live and die in these towns’.
They were supported by Flesh, a self-defined ‘snotpop’ (that after looking it up can only be attributed to them), but in actuality a rock band from Manchester, and a local band from Guildford, rock band Tapestry. It didn’t help my worry over this gig that the room was nearly empty when Flesh came on, and throughout Tapestry – however, the room filled with the arrival of Tom, Liam and Andy on stage.
First, my concerns over It’s Automatic:
- We’ll Live and Die in These Towns fully encapsulated the anger and resentment held towards city life working a job you despise, with singles ‘Away From Here’ and ‘Had Enough’ striking a chord with Coventry dwellers and those further afield. It was their debut: raw, gritty, with Tom shouting at you more than polished singing.
- Music for the People and Streets for the Sky had been impressive follow-up albums. It was different enough from their debut for fans to not say it was too similar, but different enough to show experimentation with new styles. As a band who write about the world around them, lyrics such as “there’s no time for tears when you live in the real world” and “the only thing which is only true about life, is that the older you get the more you compromise” were as relevant to people as their debut. Streets in the Sky did the same, “bigger cages, longer chains” being one amongst many standout lines in their songs.
- Every song on It’s Automatic just sounded the same to me. The newly introduced synthesiser drowned out some very good lyrics, meaning it was hard to connect with them as easily as the previous three albums. As someone from Coventry who loved all of the albums, it was hard to like this one as much.
Those concerns were long gone as soon as The Enemy launched into ‘It’s Automatic’, the second track on their new album, quickly followed by ‘Had Enough’. All of my concerns about It’s Automatic had completely been removed following the hour and a half long gig; The Enemy had a balanced mix of songs between all four albums, and even the songs from their new album with recorded synthesisers were good.
The adage that radio edits sound different to live performances proved true, as their performance was as good as they have always been. Tom was obviously nervous about how it would be received – Yeovil was their first show of the tour, and he mentioned a few times how they had tried new stuff and he wasn’t sure if people would like it.
They ended with an acoustic ‘Melody’, and despite the crowd shouting ‘more’ after they had left the stage, it was an unconventional but ideal end to the gig, a slow and melodic song with all the poignancy of the rockier, angrier ones. I left having enjoyed the entire set, not thinking I would, and incredibly excited to see what the three of them will do in the future.