Featured Image Source: O2 Academy Newcastle
I know this is a bit of a ghoulish sounding way to start an article, but have you ever been to a funeral that despite the sombre and sorrowful nature of the occasion, turned out to be a weirdly enjoyable day because it became more of a celebration of the persons life than a mourning of their passing?
Forgive me for the particularly depressing metaphor, but on a much less morbid level, that’s kind of the way this gig played out. It was a bit of a sad reason to be going to a gig, but The Enemy were never the kind of band that were going to go out without a bang. Even though they lost momentum towards the end of their career, their gigs were rarely a quiet affair, and this was no different. In fact, with it being the last chance for fans to get to see them, it somehow got even louder. This gig shown that even as they break up, they have a hard core of fans that won’t forget them anytime soon.
It was clear early on that this was going to be a party and a celebration as much as it was going to be a gig. The minutes leading to stage time were filled with the crowd singing every track the DJ played, interjected with sporadic break outs of the crowd singing “This Song”: “Now, this song, it’s about, it’s about, it’s about you”. That line would end up epitomising the whole night.
With the singing and cheering getting more and more raucous, they finally arrived on stage to the sound of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” blaring over the speakers, and opened with fan favourite “Had Enough”, receiving a ferocious reception which very much set the mood for the rest of the night. “Aggro” and “Be Somebody” followed with similarly lively responses. “No Time For Tears” from their second album “Music For The People” then followed.
Throughout the tour, the band have played every song from their debut album “We’ll Live and Die in These Towns” every night, and this show would be no different: “We know our first record meant a lot to a lot of people, so for these shows we’re playing every song off the album”, going on to admit “I don’t know why we didn’t do it earlier”. They duly followed with “Pressure”, “Technodanceaphobic” and “It’s Not Ok”. “Everybody Needs Someone” from their most recent and final album “It’s Automatic” then came before “Happy Birthday Jane”; the closing track from the first album.
The crowd were in a lively mood all night. Every song the trio played was blasted back to them, as they sang, jumped and danced the night away, determined to make the most of the last time they’d see them on stage, and it wasn’t going unnoticed: “There are some gigs you do, sometimes you have good gigs, sometimes you get bad gigs, and some you just do. But sometimes you just get a vibe from the crowd, and tonight’s one of those…” said frontman Tom Clarke”…Everyone right to the back of the seats is singing every word.” It wouldn’t be the last time he’d praise the crowd on the night.
The crowd then once again burst out singing “This Song”, “Do you want us to play This Song Newcastle?” Asked Tom. It duly followed, getting one of the biggest reactions of the night and bringing with it a truly spine-tingling moment. As the group left the stage for the encore, the crowd continued singing; “now, this song, it’s about, it’s about, it’s about you”. The sound that filled the venue was thunderous. The noise of fans jumping and stamping their feet in time with their singing essentially turned the O2 academy into a 3600m² bass drum, increasing in volume and tempo right up until the band returned on stage, picking up from where the crowd left off and finishing off This Song.
They went on to play the final trio of songs they were yet to play from the debut album. Title track “We’ll Live and Die in These Towns” was the first of these, a true sing-a-long anthem that epitomizes The Enemy, about people from a working class background struggling to carve a better quality of life for themselves. It was the perfect way to set up the crowd for what followed; their defining hit “Away From Here”, a song which about the struggles of those feeling unfulfilled with their regular 9-to-5 job. There wasn’t a still body in the venue, as fans made the most of hearing it live for the last time. “You’re Not Alone” was the penultimate song, and the last played by the whole band.
It’s here where emotions began to show. “From the bottom of your f****** lungs, from the centre of your f****** heart, I want to hear you loud and f****** proud Newcastle”, ordered Tom, successfully hyping up the crowd one last. Bassist Andy Hopkins spilled from the stage into the crowd in it’s final moments, milking his last few shows with the band. The gig then aptly finished with an acoustic and emotional rendition of “Final Goodbye”, after which, Tom stayed on stage to soak up the atmosphere one last time, as the same line from “This Song” again began to fill the venue, and he was visibly moved by it. By his own admission, he was close to tears, and even said that it was one of the best nights of his life.
Newcastle, there were almost tears on stage there. That was one of the best nights of my life. TC – X
— TheEnemy (@theenemyband) September 24, 2016
It didn’t end after he walked off stage though. The crowd continued singing when the lights came on, and they kept going for a solid ten minutes. I don’t know how security finally got them to leave.
— Ben Richardson (@__b__e__n__r__) September 24, 2016
It gave a degree of symmetry to the night as well, in the way that it both started and ended with their fans singing This Song without the band even being there to play it. It was also pretty symbolic. Even after they had gone, people were still singing their music, and as long as fans continue to enjoy their music after the band has split, then their legacy will remain strongly intact.
Admittedly, I use superlatives a lot to describe gigs. Too often in fact. I use the words “special” and “best” to the point that they don’t really mean that much anymore. One of their biggest hits “Saturday” was notably absent from the set, but I haven’t got the slightest bit of hesitation in me when I say that this was the most emotional gig I’ve ever been to. Their music really was music for the people and the working class, it really resonates with people and really means a lot to them, this gig made that clear to see. For ten years The Enemy sang about the feelings of a dejected population, and through that gave those people the chance to sing their hearts out about how they felt. They gave those people a sense that they weren’t alone, that’s important, and is why they’re going to be a big miss to the UK indie scene. On this night, fans took their opportunity to thank them for it. The Enemy may well have been pushed out of the spotlight over the last few years, but this night was about them.
The Enemy – 2006 – 2016
Thank you and good night X
— TheEnemy (@theenemyband) October 8, 2016