The Enemy at Southampton Guildhall on Sunday 21st October by Sam Skilton
The Who’s Pete Townshend was always a man renowned for talking his mind. Back in 1971 he took unkindly to spectators talking over his band as they performed at the Long Beach Arena, and in an incredible outburst he belted out the infamous line: “This is a fucking rock and roll concert, not a fucking tea party!”
Forty-one years later, those words were to be echoed by another outspoken British rock star, albeit under slightly different circumstances.
The Enemy were set to play at Southampton Guildhall as part of their UK Tour during the autumn of 2012. Frontman Tom Clarke, already with a reputation for being one of the most passionate and honest modern British musicians (you only have to listen to his lyrics to see why), reacted angrily to anti-crowd surfing signs on display at the venue by posting a photo on social-networking site Twitter. It was a paper plate, on which he had printed in block capitals: “Tonight, is not a fucking tea party. It is a rock and roll concert. Therefore you will not eject any Enemy fans for crowd surfing. If you do the band will stop playing and go home.”
It was a declaration of war against the venue’s security, and the photo was re-tweeted hundreds of times by fans in the build up to a night of classic and aggressive British rock and roll.
The crowd was sparse when the first act on the bill stepped onstage. States of Emotion, initially brought into the limelight by Inbetweeners star James Buckley who appeared in the video for the band’s single ‘The Unsung’, kicked off with a half hour set of loud and explosive rhythms which set the tone for the rest of the night.
To describe yourself as “a bare-knuckle fist fight between Primal Scream and Norman Cook, with The Charlatans and The Happy Mondays having rough sex in the background”, you either require a pair of very big balls, or to actually have the talent to back it up. Second support act The Antics certainly seem to have both in abundance. With the atmosphere inside the Guildhall growing, the highlight of an in-your-face set was a cover of The Farm’s 90’s anthem ‘All Together Now’ which the band devoted to all of the football fans singing along.
By the time Tom Clarke and his band mates emerged, arms raised triumphantly, the male-dominated crowd was itching for release like a pack of caged up Jack Russells. ‘Gimme The Sign’ provided the perfect opener, and the following hour or so consisted of sweat and showers of £3.80 Carlsberg.
The Coventry band played a mixture of their old and new material. While the classics had the crowd bounding up and down and yelling along to their hearts content, the newer tracks from their third album ‘Streets in the Sky’ packed equally as strong a punch.
Clarke even urged the enthusiastic fans to continue chanting the chorus to ‘This Song’ during the encore, and they did so until the band returned to take up where they left off and draw the track to its conclusion. One sing-along preceded the next, with the night’s second trip down memory lane to another 90’s classic, a cover of ‘Sit Down’ by James.
It was appropriate that following The Enemy’s customary closer ‘You’re Not Alone’, the concert ended with one fan making a last gasp attempt at crowd surfing. It certainly was not a night for tea sippers.
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