Tom Clarke and James Walsh at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
After a number of sold-out shows across the UK, The Enemy’s Tom Clarke returns for one last night to celebrate the tenth anniversary of We’ll Live and Die in These Towns.
Supporting him tonight is none other than Starsailor’s James Walsh. Though he still has a band, Walsh decided to focus also on his solo career in 2009. Opening the set with Good Souls, from 2001 album Love Is Here, the frontman’s vocals sound as well as they did more than a decade ago. Despite the four-piece’s fame back in the day, the singer jokingly says: “I imagine a lot of you haven’t heard my music or even Starsailor…” continuing with If I Had the Words, taken from his solo release Turning Point.
The set isn’t riveting to begin with, but progresses promisingly, a cover of Oasis’ Slide Away, which everyone sings. Though there is no electric guitar producing the rocking intro, Walsh does well with his acoustic rendition, the vocals an apt match for the 90s classic. Starsailor’s hit single Alcoholic, is another audience favourite, the songwriter’s hard strumming making up for the bass guitars and drums, while Tell Me It’s Not Over from 2009’s All the Plans exemplifies his ability to do justice to his band’s songs without the addition of the other members. Covering Primal Scream’s Movin’ on Up, Walsh gets the crowd into high spirits, after what is quite a dark and melancholic set, then closing with Starsailor’s Silence Is Easy, proving he is a worthy performer, switching from covers of big British hits to his own with ease.
Following the opening set, the house DJ plays a number of popular tracks from Britpop icons, including The Undertones, Stone Roses, Oasis and James, at which point the audience are ready for the main act, who appears to euphoric applause. Aggro begins the set, riling up the already enthused fans, who start throwing their drinks every which way. Away from Here is another success from the album, singing “Saturday is your only highlight,” apt as tonight is Friday. You can hear the resemblance to Joy Division with the guitar intro to Pressure, though this changes as the pounding keys back Clarke’s hard strumming. A cheerier tune, Had Enough, follows, a quintessence of The Enemy’s oeuvre, catchy and fuelled by rebelliousness, contrasted by the sad patriotism of We’ll Live And Die in These Towns, enough to bring tears to the eyes, as everyone chants along. The Coventrian singer-songwriter plays all the hits, making it quite an emotional set, a decade on, but feeling very relevant. He shouts over the crowd “I cannot honestly explain with words how fucking happy I am to be here”, hard mouthed and passionate as ever, before he sings Last Goodbye, from 2009 Music for the People, after which Clarke promises that all his music will be free from now on, to which the audience cheer rapturously. Happy Birthday Jane is a slow cadence track, less shout and more measured, followed by a surprising cover of The Verve’s The Drugs Don’t Work, which is received well, melancholic yet enthralling all; closing the encore with For You sets everyone off again, well into the night, pouring out singing onto the streets of London.
Though a decade on, Tom Clarke’s voice is still in great form and he performs the songs with vigour, the gritty vocals and lyrics drenched in realism and honesty, the focus of his lyrics to the working class.
Photos: Mike Garnell
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Watch the video for Away from Here here: